The people whom I read or the books which have had influence
On this page I've decided to put a short list of my literary fascinations. Its role as a guide to my ways of thinking is perhaps
more important than its function as a list of important lectures.
The order in which individual descriptions are put may be of some significance, but again it may be of none.
Jorge Luis Borges - the Blind Argentinian. Master of misquote, reviewer of inexistent books, evoker of the past, tinkerer of
contradictory items, a storyteller. There are some motifs in his short stories which he approaches repeatedly - tiger, mirror, loneliness,
time and of course repetition of some common motifs in literature. There's not a spare, needless word in his works, at least I have such
impression. There is probably a lot of things in me which I took from him - after all, aren't we all just literary figures?
Umberto Eco - an Italian professor and a full-time erudite. His novels resemble work of a watchmaker - wheels within wheels, all
moving together... Firstly he reconstructs the world in which he sets the action with perfection bordering with pedantry, secondly he's
having a hell of a fun from it, composing whole chapters out of quotations, pastiches and literary allusions. A labyrinth it is, but a one
which is hidden from the sight of a careless reader.
Emil Cioran - a Romanian writer and philosopher. Throwing insults at everyone and everything with eloquently rabid and elegant style,
he is a master of exaggeration and despair. His view of human condition is extremely pessimistic, his disdain limitless and his
language exquisite. I adore him and used to try (in vain) to emulate his writing.
Milorad Pavić - a Serbian writer, author of the "Hazarski rečnik" [the
Khazar dictionary]. He wrote, of course, much more, but this one
book is all I've read. It's a garden of entangled threads which tells a story (or more than one story) about Khazars - a forgotten people who
didn't really fit anywhere, chasing dreams and trying desperately to become just like their neighbours. The book is a source of amusement
and sour reflection, for we, the Eastern Europeans are just as unreal and unfitting
as the Khazars.
Ryszard Kapuściński - The Reporter. You'll probably find "Cesarz" [the Emperor]- his great study of tyranny,
and "Szachinszach" [the Shahinshah, what else could that be] - the best piece ever written about Iranian Revolution, translated
into your own tongue. What you probably won't find is his "Lapidarium" series - collections of facts, reflections, memories, loose thoughts,
lectures and other miscellanea not binded by a common subject, but by an attitude
toward the world. A true masterpiece.
Stanisław Lem - walking encyclopedia of sciences. Polish science-fiction writer who knows everything. Or not far from that.
Just read and you'll see for yourself.
Федор Достоевский - "The Russian master has penetrated the dark labyrinth of Slavic soul deeper than anyone else" -
this is what Borges wrote about him. Nevermind the dark labyrinths, Dostoevski has written some of the scariest and uhm... for the lack
of better word "deepest" things I've ever read. It's the kind of literature that struggles with you, that strangles you, that puts you face-to-face
with yourself. Not a particularly pleasant experience, but an enriching one
Władysław Kopaliński - the ultimate lexicographer. The Man who writes dictionaries and lexicons. Not mere word-finders I mean, but
compendia of wisdom tainted with irony, cultural lore, and useless-but-fascinating trivia about the world, words, us. He's a guardian of
myths and traditions and a researcher of new trends at the same time.
Arthur Schopenhauer - "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung" tells us (yes, I like to oversimplify things every now and then) that
a) all what we see, all the sensory input we get is just illusory (and you thought Matrix's creators were creative, didn't you?) and
b) that everything is governed by the Will, a force which is blind, unreasonable (for it is the will and not the reason, right?)
and unquenchable (does "the more I have, the more I want" sound familiar to you?). It's more a weltanshauung ("worldview" - if that's
an English word) than a coherent philosophical system, a set of impressions than a dull paradigm of patterns. In short a vision I, personally,
accept with whole strenght of my pessimism (as Persians say 'badbini' - 'badseeing') and
Борис Акунин - a Russian (not quite). Detective stories writer (not quite). That's one. He is a master of remake, pastiche and other literary games. He
writes excellent XIX-century crime stories for a modern (or post-modern) reader. That's two. Games. He plays games with
the genre (and subgenres) he
mimicks, with inner structure of a book he changes each volume, with the language he uses and above all - with reader.
That's three. Erudite pulp for everyone. That's four. If four is not enough see his official site for
more. It's really nice and in Russian.
Tomasz Piątek - the man called Friday (that's what "Piątek" means). Child prodigy who turned heroine addict who turned prolific writer. And
a 'psycholinguist', whatever this means, on top of that. He writes twisted stories about wicked people. They feel very smooth and slimy, as if lubricated. He's got skill
he's got imagination, but he has no patience to keep the plot together.
Care to tell me what you think?
Or, find your retreat to the main page, if you don't.
I owe this page, as I owe everything, to K.D. , whose smile makes the impossible happen