The Tyee has published my article Ten Novels Every Aspiring Writer Should Read. Excerpt:
Some time ago I published an article about 10 novels that aspiring writers should avoid. It wasn't because they were bad -- most of them are modern classics -- but because their readable styles looked so easy that they might seduce a young writer into imitating them.
Other novels deserve reading by writers precisely because they can't be imitated. They can only show us how far a particular technique can be pushed, and it's up to us to understand and adapt that technique to our own work.
Here are 10 novels that taught me something about the craft and art of fiction.
1. Tristram Shandy, by Lawrence Sterne (1767). Written very early in the history of the English novel, this has been been justly called the first hypertext fiction -- but without the links. It is supposedly Tristram's autobiography. But with one digression after another, it ends with Tristram still unborn. The narrative seems like one damn thing after another, with no plot. But Sterne is playing games with time and memory that apprentices should also learn to play.