If you’re a student of literature or an aspiring writer, if you’re not reading – you’re not practising. Burying your head into novels with worlds that are exciting, strange and either too different (or perhaps too similar) to our own is a sure way to keep alive our creative minds. If like me, you prefer reading material that’s on the darker side, then read on to see the gritty, unusual and edgiest authors helping to fuel my own writing.
6Brett Easton Ellis
Born and bread in L.A, Ellis writes about life on the wild side and its enough to make any of his books seem like one long party. He adapts a way to make talking about spoilt, rich American kids in the 80s with drug problems and identity issues extremely appealing. Its not all fun and games though, as his protagonists often find themselves drowned in the poisonous life that high social class and riches can bring – where the brand of your shirt or the person you’re dating dictates your entire worth and place in society.
His most famous and downright shocking novel is American Psycho, which can be labelled both a literary masterpiece or just a heart attack in a novel. If you need something that’ll make your head spin and your humanity tested, read this one.
However, if you’d like to try a few of his tamer novels, try reading Less Than Zero, The Informers and Rules of Attraction. All novels named have also been adapted into films so there’s no harm in giving those a look too.
Brett Easton Ellis is perfect for anyone who loves that dramatic, Hollywood-American atmosphere.
Of all author’s on the list, this is personally the most influential in my own work. The name might sound a bit of a mouthful, but you’ll soon be keen when you find out he’s the author of the ever popular Fight Club. For anyone who enjoyed the film, the novel is very similar which means you’ll definitely enjoy the reading experience too. The novel allows for a much deeper, analytical version of the film, so for any film junkies out there that want a bigger taste of Fight Club, read Chuck’s novel.
Other works of his include Invisible Monsters and Choke, which from the names alone cry out “dark” and “edgy”. These two are definitely worth the read if you want more after Fight Club. Chuck has a very distinguished way of portraying misfits and mental illness that results in a very fascinating read. For people who love diving into the heads of outcasts and non-conformists, this is the author for you.
4Hunter S. Thompson
This is a writer with some issues – but fantastically crazy ones. If I mention the name “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”, you might just get an idea of what this writer is on to. Thompson diverts his way deep into the human mind where limits do not exist. Thompson was a Politically minded guy that found himself tempted by unorthodox behaviour in which he quoted, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” This might just give you a teaser of the themes in his work. Sadly, Thompson is no longer alive, but his writing makes him an unforgettable figure.
Thompson writes with unique perception that may come across as madness, but inside the madness is genius. This is an author that needs to be greeted with an open mind. If you think you’re mind is as open and wacky as Thompson’s, pick up Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (and you don’t even need to finish it) and give his novel Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle gang a try.
3Philip K Dick
A writer that has also passed, what’s even more sad is that his highly imaginative and Sci-Fi novels only gained fame and acknowledgment after he died. That aside, the only thing we can do is keep reading his work and expanding our minds whilst we do so. I came across this author after watching A Scanner Darkly, which felt like a mix between an acid trip and an alternative reality. Clearly fascinated, I found out that Philip. K Dick was the reason the film was made as he has a long collection of otherworldly novels that question the subconscious mind and whether us and the world we live in is even real at all. Another title that he is associated with is Blade Runner and Total Recall, which if you’ve watched the movies, shows just how inventive Philip. K Dick was in his creations. As the majority of people have found their way to this writer by watching the films, it is worth further engrossing yourself into the original novels if you want to blow your own mind.
For Sci-Fi fans, philosophers and the curious – enter the world that is Philip K Dick.
Perhaps one of the more grounded of the mentioned authors, Bukowski writes about a world that many of us have found ourselves in; a world where people are trying to reach success but go through hell doing it. His work is mostly auto-biographical, which is great for aspiring writers because it gives us a realistic view of what trying to establish a name as an author can be like. Bukowski shows us how everyone starts from the bottom and is able to reach the top but also just as capable of falling back down again. Alcoholism, failed relationships, poetry, loneliness and a creative soul is what you’ll find a lot of in his work. One thing to take to mind is that Bukowski makes a note not to sugar coat anything, he is brutal, honest and talks about the hardships of the real world.
For anyone going through the inevitable struggle that every writer goes through, read his work Factotum, Post Office and Women.