The first 12 books that I remembered in the order I remembered them, revised.

  1. The Bible – though I believe and say shit like “I’m such an atheist, I’m not an atheist,” and “God is dead, but sometimes I miss him,”  the Book is the mythology I cut my teeth on lies under my writing like a buried bone
  2. Little Lord Fauntleroy  Gotta get out of this place! (Gretna) “Maybe I’m adopted and my real parents are English nobility.”
  3. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), reinforced by the inspired reading of the opening passage by Joan Baez on her Baptism recording.
  4. The Energy of Slaves – (Leonard Cohen), stripped down, whether laconic or angry, right on the money. It’s the only book I ever tried to shoplift. Tried, the keyword. Poor U of M Bookstore security lady felt so sorry for my 18-year old ass trying to steal a book of poetry, held it until I had the money to come back and buy it.
  5. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Michael Ondaatje)
  6. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) mostly because it was a damn fine novel about places I knew in my own country, but also because it was one of my mother’s favourite books that I saw her readings some Sunday mornings when she could have been in church. Also because she thought if Margaret Laurence “could use words like that,” I could too, when my Dad discovered Jimmy Bang Poems.
  7. Field Notes (Robert Kroetsch)Still have a first edition of Seed Catalogue, but am particularly found of The Sad Phoenician, and The Poets Mother, the poem envoi (to begin with) the seed for the new envoi literary foundation or ELF (stayed tuned)
  8. The Edible Woman, What’s not to like? I was in university, what it lacked in subtlety was mostly lost on me because of its clarity, and for god’s sake it was FUNNY. Insert Canadian Iron Man Contest joke here.
  9. Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry), best description of leaving the garden for the abyss ever written. I’ve stopped reading it every October, my favourite reading of course on an October Ferry to Gabriola in 1979.
  10. Ada Or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (Nabokov), I may have read Lolita first, but this is definitely my favourite Nabakov, introducing me to my lifelong fascination with “the family romance,” and a novel way of story writing.
  11. Mad Shadows by Marie Claire Blais. Cohen and Blais introduced me to new writing and new ways of writing by Canadians.
  12. The Waves by Virginia Woolf  tied in to a rhythm of language that I love,  pushed harder by Cohen and Blais who came after, but could be much angrier than Woolf, which also appealed to me in the seventies.
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