Monday, 15 August 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Jamie Ford @JamieFord

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors to share with us a list of the books that are special to them and have left a lasting impression on their life

I can't tell you how delighted I am that Jamie Ford has joined me today on Random Things.  His first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was one of my first reviews on Random Things, back in June 2011. At the time I called it a 'beautiful masterpiece', and I still feel that way about it - it's one of my ALL TIME favourite books.  His second novel, Songs of Willow Frost was published in 2013 and once again, I adored it, and in my Random Things review I say that it is extraordinary. It is, he's a fabulous author who I admire so very much. 
I heartily recommend his books and I'm so looking forward to reading his new book when it is released. If you've not read these, they are both published her in the UK by Allison & Busby

My Life in Books ~ Jamie Ford

The White Mountains by John Christopher  Before the current trend of dystopian, post-apocalyptic books for young adults, there were The Tripods. I read this series in the 5th grade and the poignant, sacrificial ending has haunted me ever since.

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy  Pat once said, "The greatest gift a writer can ever receive is an unhappy childhood."  If you've ever read The Great Santini, My Losing Season or The Prince of Tides, you'll know that for Pat, growing up was Christmas every day. I discovered Santini as a teenager and it was salve for the scars my own father left on my psyche.

Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison  This book was banned from my high school library, which made me immediately want to find it and consume it. This was the first time that I realised books had the power to scare people ------ specifically parents. These were the same parents who had us kicked out of the library for playing Dungeons & Dragons after school. They said we were worshipping the devil. Because that's where you do it, you know, at the library.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami  In looking at this list I'm betraying the sense of brokeness I felt as a young man. What can I say? Even as an adult I still love a beautiful, steaming cup of melancholy. This book shattered my heart and put the pieces back together again in better working condition.

An Edge in My Voice by Harlan Ellison  Look ----- another book by Uncle Harlan! This hard-to-find collection of essays was my go-to book as an aspiring writer in my 30s. It's a master class on writing with an authentic voice ---- painful, angry and evocative, with equal parts arrogance and vulnerability. I used to haunt a local bookstore, late at night, reading this book when my world was on fire.

Blankets by Craig Thompson  These days I'm in a guys' book club called Books & Brews and each year we try to add at least one graphic novel to our middle-aged reading repertoire. This is my favourite and one I'm always pushing ---- a poignant graphic memoir about first love, and loss.

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin  Another self-revelatory read, this is one of those profound novels that changes the way we remember those closest to us --- the way we loved them, or the way we took them hopelessly for granted. You have to be a certain age to fully appreciate this book. (And you get extra credit for having lost a parent).

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu  The most memorable thing I read all of last year was this (massively award-winning) short story by Ken Liu (who is a once-in-a-generation talent). The Paper Menagerie beautifully encapsulates the hopeful, sacrificial dynamic between a parent and child.

Cue the music from The Lion King.   That's my life in books, I'm outta here

Jamie Ford ~ August 2016

Jamie Ford is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung who emigrated from China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name 'Ford', thus confusing countless generations.

His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a New York Times bestseller, and has been awarded the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. It has been translated into twenty-nine languages.

Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children.

More information about Jamie Ford and his writing can be found on his website
Follow him on Twitter @JamieFord


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