Thursday, March 5, 2009

the allusion illusion



One of the things I do in all my books is I throw some props out to great writers and great works of fiction and literature. Sometimes, I do this subtly... and sometimes it's right out there on display.

I guess English teacher or Lit professor types call this "literary allusion."

If you've read Ghost Medicine and in the path of falling objects, you probably picked these up (the former makes much more overt allusions than the latter). Obviously enough, here they are (in case you were wondering):

From Ghost Medicine: Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot and Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, both of which I read -- on my own -- when I was about 16, just like Troy, the main character in Ghost Medicine, does.

I won't go into why, exactly, the protagonists and story arcs of these novels are important to my work, but they are both books I think boys should read.

Now, in both those books, there are some very understated allusions to Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano. You'd have to be quite a fan of Lowry's and read my books very closely, but I do give props to that novel in both my first works. It may not be such a widely-read work, but it did make a big impact on me when I read it as a teen.

From in the path of falling objects, there are lots of literary allusions... and most of them are pretty obvious. Here they are (I think I'm putting them in their order of appearance):

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn... obviously enough, as is Cervantes' Don Quixote, and L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. And, near the end, there is a reference to my favorite all-time poem, The Emperor of Ice Cream, by Wallace Stevens.

If you've read in the path of falling objects, I bet you could go back and find that little bit.

I love that poem.