Literary fiction at its best is never boring. The problem: there's so much that truly is boring (or just misclassified) in this catch-all category of fiction.
Below, I picked some of my favorite novels; books that influenced my style, through the author's vision and use of words and plot. Somehow, in their own way, they gave me the dispensation to be unique and create. These works aspire me to write and have given me countless hours of pleasure and torment; all memorable and all hard to put down — in the end I was sad to part with the author.†
The themes of self acceptance and love are repeated, as I chart that course through my own work.
by Patrick Suskind
This is the closest one can ever come to smelling the world inside a novel. Patrick Suskind writes with scent, tapping into that part of your brain that allows you to view the imagined world and live through the story of murder and intrigue at the height of the French perfume industry. Part historical novel and part morality play, you are both endeared to the killer and also mortified by his action. At the root, the sense of disconnections and alienation caused by his unique ability to smell everything is masterful. If you enjoy Dexter, you'll love this novel.
by Alan Helms
Written as a gay confessional, Alan recounts his beautiful youth and many lovers. What's unique about this memoir is his bout with aging and what happened when he lost his youth, the many shrinks he went to (and drugs taken), and his path of learning to love himself for himself — something many gay men never truly learn to master. It's something I've fought with constantly. Often, we're never taught the skill of accepting ourselves (especially with the draw of sites like Manhunt which encourage us to post the most alluring pictures of ourselves to attract temporary affection).
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is the latest book from a master of literature, and it's just as engaging as if he picked up his pen for the first time. I'm familiar with his themes and characters and this fits into the vein. He's the only writer I know that makes the smell of death sensual and exotic, almost something that whole-heartedly must be embraced, so you can truly love life.
I recommend Of Love and Other Demons because it's an easier read, and not as demanding as his earlier work. In some ways it's a wonderful introduction to his writing and style, without the demand of his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude.
by Jeanette Winterson
This novel was given to me by an ex-boyfriend. We were in a bookstore and I was bitching about not having gay writers to read. He was right. I loved this book. Sadly, I read it after we broke up. Yet, that's just how things happen.
The book is a colorful and vibrant coming out story, where you learn to have empathy for the characters transformation. It's a nice summer read and easy to ingest, yet unforgettable in its brevity and love of self acceptance.
by Alex Geana, illustrated by Joe Rice, edited by Melissa Noble
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Alex Geana
Alex Geana is the author of Side Step Me, a new book about online hook-ups, love and drugs in the age of anti-depressants. He's had a play produced, blogs at HuffPo and is looking forward to finally publishing a novel. He loves people that read.
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