This essay is an exploration of Michael Holladay's interests in style and influence related to his writing and overall writing process. I've chosen a selection of books that both reflect my interests as a writer, books that I've loved and have informed me in the past which continue to inform and inspire on each re-read (Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, for example) and also books I hadn't read and needed to in order to challenge myself with writing I haven't been exposed to yet so I can continue to grow (I hadn't, for instance, read Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson or Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel before preparation for this essay.) The fiction I've chosen to discuss strikes a balance between favorites that have formed me up to this point and new work to "fill in the gaps" of books I needed to read. Additionally, I've chosen a selection of books on craft to provide a lens for thinking about writing. Finally, I've also included work in other genres that inform my fiction (Ryan van Meter's creative nonfiction essays, If You Knew Then What I Know Now and Andrew Haigh's film, Weekend.)
I've intentionally chosen work that is diverse in both form and content. I have more linear fiction represented (William Trevor, for example) matched with work that's fragmentary and language focused (Christine Schutt's Nightwork among others) since I'm interested in how linear form and fragmentation can intersect, and I've been experimenting with both during my time in the program. And in terms of content, the majority of the work speaks to my interest in how region, specifically the South, impresses itself on sexuality and gender, specifically queer or decentered sexuality and gender. So I have books with a heavy focus on region (Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter and Girl Trouble by Holly Goddard Jones) and work that explores the complexities of sexuality and identity (Michael Cunningham, Edmund White, Alexander Chee, and I'll mention Haigh's film Weekend again because it's always worth mentioning again.) These works will help synthesize and bring together my interests in style, language, structure, and form, and in content.