the following are a few books that have directly influenced me over the years. this is basically a glimpse into what i like to read, and what has influenced my writing. i suppose you can say that these are my early influences.

bret easton ellis was the first major contemporary writer that i came across. his book, american psycho, was the first piece of contemporary work that i fully dove into, and needless to say, i thought it was an utter complete waste of time. i had been drawn to it after hearing about all the controversy. really, it was much ado about nothing, because the book really was terrible. it was far too long, too repetitive, and really, not worth the time to protest. then i decided to give ellis another shot. i don't know why. i guess i just liked the cover of this book.

anyway, less than zero is by far, one of the best contemporary works of fiction ever. sort of funny, considering it was written in the eighties, but it's still very now. the book is basically about a bunch of wealthy kids in los angeles, who spend their time wrapped up in drugs and alcohol and sex and pretty much just living very vapid and vacuous lives. not much in terms of plot, but there was something about ellis' writing style that completely turned me onto writing more contemporary pieces. up until then, i had been writing mostly faux h.p. lovecraft pieces. this was the type of writing that i really enjoyed; simple, sparse, and rich with atmosphere. no other book describes los angeles better. simply put, ellis is one of the best out there. too bad he hasn't written a good book since the informers.

alex garland wrote an incredible book that was made into a so-so movie staring leonardo dicaprio. shit happens, but it doesn't diminish the book any. the beach is about a british guy named richard, who is traveling through thailand, searching for an experience. he comes across a guy, daffy, who tells him about this remote beach, so prestine and beautiful, and completely untouched by civilizatin. richard ends up being give a map by daffy, who subsequently commits suicide. richard then runs into a french couple, etienne and francois, who he convinces to go with him to the beach, because a) he's a coward and doesn't want to go by himself, and b) francois is a babe, and he's in love with her. the book is filled with great referenes to the vietnam war, ninetendo game boy, movies, and this great one-sided romance that richard suffers through. it gets a bit too lord of the flies for my taste, but it's really great never-the-less. if you've read any of his books, or seen any of his movies, you'll know that garland likes a bloody ending. usually people die, sometimes in large numbers, at the end. still, a great read. and if you've travelled any, you'll definitely appreciate richard's desire to find some place untouched by civilization, to find an experience. lately garland has been doing a lot of movies, but i'm hoping he returns to books soon. his last one sucked, and i'm pretty desperate these days for a good read.

j.g. ballard is a writer who is obsessed with car crashes. he's got this real life fetish for cars and for destruction, which is really quite creepy. still, it works for his books. you have probably heard of crash, the book about people deliberately getting into car crashes and then having sex. concrete island is another book about a crash. this time, a business man takes his car off the on ramp and crashes it into a concrete island, which is basically just a cement and grass no man's land. he survives the crash, but is crippled, and must essentially learn to survive, marooned in the middle of the city, unable to escape. it's sort of like a modern day robinson crusoe. normally ballard sort of bores me, with most of his writing being far too pretentious and arty to really keep my attention. still, he manages to be arty and still keep a sci-fi edge. everything this man writes has something to do with the whole man vs machine theme.

don delillo, with this book, proves himself to be a forward thinker. i was in montreal when i read this book. it was hot, muggy, and i was desperate to get rid of my writer's block for when i was writing desert sessions. i started reading players and i could not put it down. it is absolutely eerie how close this book foretells 9/11. the book is about a couple who essentially go their seperate ways. one, the husband, works at the n.y. stock exchange, where a terrorist act happens and a man is murdered on the trading room floor. his wife works at a grief counciling firm that has its office in one of the towers of the world trade center. it gets more crazy from there. the whole book is littered with people talking about how the world trade center doesn't seem permenant, including images of planes nearly crashing into buildings. this book is insane. to think, this book was written in the late 1970's. when i read this, i had chills up my spine. delillo had written an amazing book called great jones street, about a rock star that isolates himself from the world and subsequently ends up running into a cult. until i read players, that book had been my favorite of delillo's, but players totally changed that. delillo has influenced everyone from ellis to garland to phalaniuk. if you ever have any doubt, just read americana, delillo's first book. the book is dry, but the writing style is unmistakable. ellis and the others definitely copied from delillo. and, i guess, so have i.

so that's basically a brief list of books that have penetrated into my psyche. everything i write, i owe to these guys, and for that, i'm grateful.