I think I started wanting to be a writer when I was about 10. It wasn’t the influence of any particular writer. I just liked making up stories. I read things like Ray Bradbury, the Hardy Boys series, some other simple genre fiction of that ilk. I liked reading, but I had no literary heroes.
When I read As I Lay Dying in 11th grade, I started to feel much more strongly about a deeper purpose for literature, beyond story-telling, which is just a pretext—something about the nature of mankind, something philosophical. I very quickly absorbed more Faulkner, took a deeper interest in Shakespeare, some of which I’d already read. In 12th grade I was introduced to Beckett and Joyce, deepening my respect for art created through language. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.
As much as I owe to Joyce and Faulkner (as well as Barth, Barthelme, Coover, and most recently, David Foster Wallace), it’s Pynchon who I think has the most direct influence on the writing I’m doing today, and not just because I’ve been immersed in his most recent novel for the past 4-6 weeks. It’s been that way since college when I first read Crying of Lot 49 and then Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s the particular way he blends reality and non-reality to make a philosophical point.
With Pynchon, it often has to do with entropy. For me, it’s something more epistemological. I don’t have time to work out a full essay on this. I just had a few thoughts about it and wanted to get it down.