Who's My Literary Tribe?
The other day, a writer friend asked me, “Who’s Your Tribe?” I answered, “Huh?”
“You know. The writers you love. The scribes you depend on for inspiration, content, and technique? Don’t tell me you don’t have any.”
I had to think about it. As a kid, I had my people. Lucy Montgomery Anne of Green Gables etc.), Jean Webster (Daddy Long Legs), Carolyn Keene Collective (Nancy Drew), Laura Ingall Wilder (Little House Books), and Maud Hart Lovelace (The Betsy Books), Walter Farley (The Black Stallion). Essentially my obsessions were mysteries, writers, and horses.
As a later teen I hid my mother’s copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover under my mattress and a friend introduced me to Anais Nin. And Colleen McCullough’s Thornbirds occupied my time for a while. No need to say what I was after there.
Into adulthood, I seldom found interest in fictional tales. I wanted to know the real story – the truth. I read and wrote nonfiction: articles, essays (especially humor), profiles, biography and memoir. I still do.
After some pondering and shuffling through bookshelves, I came up with these tribe members. These are the authors on my “they knock me out” shelf.
Russell Baker, Bill Bryson, Christopher Buckley, Joan Didion, Firoozeh Dumas, A.J. Jacobs, Mary Karr, Haven Kimmel, Anne Lamott, Thomas Lynch, James McBride, Frank McCourt, Ruth Reichl, Sue William Silverman, J. Maarten Troost, Jeannette Wall. I have to say I was surprised my feminist self named so many men.
Is it because they had the inside track in publishing? In spite of it, my list includes eight men and eight women.
My friend asked me, “Why are these your literary tribe?”
I had to think again what they had in common. With honesty, unique voices, deep reflection and humor, they engage the reader. And their turns of phrase drive me wild. The final test: Do I burn with envy that I didn’t write that piece or that book? I thin k they are brilliant. Just sayin’.
Now it's your turn. Who's in your literary tribe?