Reading Lists

Writers I Have Met or Known Personally and Their Writing I Admire

Edward Albee, Zoo Story, The Goat, American Dream
Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho, Less Than Zero
Joan Didion, Democracy
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
Andrew Winer, The Marriage Artist, The Color Midnight Made
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrrot
Richard Ford, Lay of the Land
Tony Hillerman, Dance Hall of the Dead
John Elder, Editor, Norton Anthology of Nature Writing
Ann Beattie, Where You'll Find Me
Czeslaw Milosz, Native Realm
Rosellen Brown, Before and After
Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City
Candace Bushnell, Sex and The City
Margaret Atwood, Handmaid's Tale
George Plimpton, Paper Lion
Clarence Major, Dirty Bird Blues
Derek Walcott, Odyssey translation for production at SUNY-Purchase
Seamus Heaney, Station Island
Cate Marvin, World's Tallest Disaster
Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life
Charles Baxter, Feast of Love
Paul Muldoon, Moy Sand and Gravel
Alan Arkin, The Lemming Condition
Wayne Fields, What the River Knows
Gail Galloway Adams, The Purchase of Order
Richard Howard, Untitled Subjects
Anthony S. Abbott, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat
Adam Zagajewski, Canvas
Lawrence Hogue, The African American Male, Writing, and Difference
David Kirkland, A Search Past Silence
Natasha Trethewey, Domestic Work, Bellocq's Ophelia
David Huddle, Only the Little Bone 
Todd Solondz, Happiness
Alexandre Rockwell, In the Soup
Rosanne Cash, Composed
Dana Gioia, Can Poetry Matter?
James Robison, Rumor and Other Stories
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs, Granta
Richard Chess, Chair in the Desert

John Cheever once said, "A page of good prose remains invincible."  Reading and writing are inseparable for me.  Over the years I have tried to absorb as much literary fiction as possible.  I would say that the following books transformed me:

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting; The Jazz Party; Identity; Ignorance; Slowness by Milan Kundera
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The World According to Garp; Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
The Doomsters; The Ivory Grin; The Way Some People Die; The Instant Enemy; The Blue Hammer by Ross Macdonald
The Silver Swan; Christine Falls; The Lemur; Elegy for April; A Death in Summer; Vengeance by Benjamin Black
Sunset Park; The New York Trilogy; Moon Palace; Winter Journal; Music of Chance; Leviathan by Paul Auster
Winter in the Blood by James Welch
Light in August by William Faulkner
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Dreamer by Charles Johnson
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
Best American Mystery Stories 2003, ed. Michael Connelly
On Crime Writing by Ross Macdonald
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
Open by Andre Agassi
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano
Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice by Carl Jung
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Ulysses by James Joyce
Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Reader's Block by David Markson
Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
Embers by Sandor Marai
The Reclusives by Mark Damon Puckett (just kidding)

Other Fun Lists

Famous People I've Met (or Have Been Two Feet From)
Ivana Trump, Plaza Hotel, Manhattan
Matthew Modine
Bret Easton Ellis
Candace Bushnell
George Plimpton
Stephen Hawking
William Devane
Kiefer Sutherland
Jay McInerney
Joan Didion
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton 
Chelsea Clinton
Tony Hillerman
Edward Albee
David Caruso, almost ran him over on Sunset Blvd. on my bike
Chad Lowe
Tommy Lee Jones, random convenience store in West Texas
Ann Beattie
Richard Ford, New Yorker fiction party, Gramercy Park
Tobias Wolff
Salman Rushdie
David Hockney
Don DeLillo
Julian Barnes
Zadie Smith
Monica Lewinsky
Parker Posey
James Gandolfini, discussed weird art at a party in SOHO
Billy Crudup, sat beside him at reading of Salome in Brooklyn, discussed screenwriting
Julianna Marguilies
At Book Soup, Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles:
Robert Downey, Jr., sold him a big dictionary in a Scottish accent
Winona Ryder, sold her a pile of magazines
Fabio, met at newsstand, didn't have the magazine he needed
Val Kilmer, saved his AMEX he lost
Johnny Depp, discussed credit cards, sold him some photography books
Allen Ginsberg, sold photography books (he was a photographer)
Meg Ryan, children's books, she sneezed, I said, "Bless you."
Donald Sutherland, Penguin Classics, Greek literature, hearty laugh
Whoopi Goldberg, directed her to Drama section
David Spade
Bryan Adams
Stephen Bogart, yes, Humphrey's son
Elizabeth Berkley
Elisabeth Shue
Tom Sizemore
Chris Penn, told me a joke
Julie Delpy, okay, didn't meet her but saw her
Jim Jarmusch, saw him buying poetry, didn't meet
Ben Stiller, with Jeanne Tripplehorn

Jazz and Blues Musicians I've Seen Live
David Gibson, trombone, Fat Cat
Jimmy Cobb, drummer on Kind of Blue, Birdland
Toots Thielemans, harmonica, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Herbie Hancock and Kenny Werner
Pat Metheny, Christian McBride, SUNY-Purchase
Henry Threadgill, Knitting Factory
Brandford Marsalis, Jazz Standard
Ron Carter, bass, Joe Lovano, sax, Jazz Standard
Terence Blanchard, trumpet, Jazz Standard
John Faddis, trumpet, Jimmy Heath, sax, David Gibson, trombone, Blue Note
Mark Whitfield, guitarist, Zinc Bar
Pharoah Sanders, sax, Seattle
Jimmy Greene, sax, interviewed for SUNY-Purchase alumni magazine when we were both professors there
Hank Jones, piano, Joe Lovano, sax, Dizzy's Club at Coca-Cola
Dominick Farinacci, trumpet, Dizzy's
Sonny Rollins, sax, random park in Manhattan
Bob Mintzer, sax player for Yellow Jackets, played trumpet with him on "Freddie Freeloader" in informal jam 
Pete Malinverni, piano, interviewed at SUNY-Purchase and saw him perform there
Roy Hargrove, trumpet, Manhattan
Wynton Marsalis, trumpet, Park Ave. Borders book store, upstairs giving a music lesson with his trumpet to a handful of young kids, signed my Howlin' Wolf cd
John Lee Hooker, outdoor park in Houston
Bo Diddley, Fitzgerald's, Houston, managed to steal one of his drumsticks
Harold Ousley, sax, Brooklyn
McCoy Tyner (Coltrane's piano player), Iridium and SUNY-Purchase

Theater, Ballet, Opera

Salome, reading of Oscar Wilde's play in Brooklyn, with Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei, Dianne Wiest (also sat beside actor Billy Crudup)
Long Day's Journey into Night, Manhattan, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Sean Leonard
Elephant Man, Manhattan, with Billy Crudup
True West, Manhattan, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly
Waiting for Godot, Manhattan, with John Turturro, Christopher Lloyd, Tony Shalhoub
Marriage Play by Edward Albee, Houston
The Play About the Baby by Edward Albee, Manhattan, saw twice
Keeley and Du by Jane Martin, Houston
Three Tall Women by Edward Albee, Manhattan
Memphis, Manhattan
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Manhattan
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Manhattan
Urinetown, Manhattan
Invention of Love, Manhattan, with Robert Sean Leonard
De la Guarda, Manhattan
Chicago, Las Vegas, with Ben Vereen
Cabaret, Manhattan, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming
Les Miserables, Houston
Cats, Charlotte
Beauty and the Beast, Los Angeles, with Tom Bosley
Happy Days by Samuel Beckett, La Jolla
Cirque de Soleil, Las Vegas, Manhattan
Death of a Salesman, Manhattan, with Brian Dennehy
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Manhattan, with Ashley Judd, Jason Patric, Ned Beatty
Freak, Manhattan, John Leguizamo
Radio Golf by August Wilson, Yale Rep
The Syringa Tree, Yale Rep (produced by J.D. Salinger's son, Matt Salinger)
Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Manhattan, with Ernie Hudson, Arliss Howard
Art, Manhattan, Alan Alda, Alfred Molina
Closer, Manhattan, Clive Owen
Plenty, London, with Cate Blanchett
The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, London
Henry V, London
Oedipus, London
Hamlet, Taunton, England
Macbeth, Stratford-upon-Avon
King Lear, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
Arcadia, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
As You Like It, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
Romeo and Juliet, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
The Changeling, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
The Odyssey, SUNY-Purchase, Purchase, New York, translation Derek Walcott
The Shape of Things, Manhattan, with Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Gretchen Mol, Fred Weller
The Goat by Edward Albee, Manhattan, with Mercedes Ruehl, Bill Pullman
Ovid's Metamorphoses, Manhattan
A View from the Bridge, Manhattan
Colin Quinn Long Story Short, Manhattan, produced by Jerry Seinfeld
The Exonerated, Manhattan
Speed-the-Plow, Chicago, with William Petersen
Xerxes (opera), Santa Fe Opera
Don Giovanni (opera), Santa Fe Opera
Gianni Schicchi (opera), SUNY-Purchase, Purchase, New York
Don Quixote (opera), London
Giselle (ballet), Houston Ballet
The Nutcracker (ballet), Houston Ballet
Alice in Wonderland (ballet), Houston Ballet
Daphnis and Chloe (ballet), Houston Ballet
Cinderella (ballet), Houston Ballet
Cruel Garden (ballet), Houston Ballet

Other Musical Concerts
Radiohead, Madison Square Garden
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Davidson College
The Posies, Seattle
John Wesley Harding, Seattle
Blues Traveler, Davidson College, Houston, Santa Fe
Eric Clapton/Jeff Beck, Madison Square Garden
10,000 Maniacs, Houston
GG Allin, Houston
Lemonheads, Houston
Gin Blossoms, Houston
Whitney Houston, London
The Smithereens, Davidson College
The Cult, Houston
Lenny Kravitz, Houston
Indigo Girls, Davidson College, Atlanta, Santa Fe
Ben Harper, Atlanta
Doc Watson, Davidson College
Alanis Morissette, Los Angeles
The Wallflowers, Los Angeles
Luna, Los Angeles
Matchbox 20, Los Angeles
Kellin Watson, Pisgah Brewery, Black Mountain
Smashing Pumpkins, Radio City Music Hall
Bobby Short, Carlyle Hotel, Manhattan
Fred Eaglesmith, Knitting Factory
Tanya Tucker, Houston
Rosanne Cash (reading), Rye, New York
Bob Dylan, Beacon Theatre
Merle Haggard, Beacon Theatre
Nick Cave, Beacon Theatre
Paco Pena, 92nd Y
Hillary Hahn, Stamford, Connecticut
Bacon Brothers, Manhattan
Rolling Stones, San Francisco
Allman Brothers, Santa Fe
Harvey Danger, Seattle
Phish, Los Angeles
Suzanne Vega, Austin
Robyn Hitchcock, Santa Fe
Huey Lewis, New Orleans
Portishead, Manhattan
Travis Tritt, Houston
Foo Fighters, New Orleans

Museum Favorites
The Met, Manhattan
The Frick, Manhattan
Neue Galerie, Manhattan
Tate Modern, London
Tate, London
British Museum, London
Guggenheim, Manhattan
Whitney, Manhattan
MOMA, Manhattan
Museum of Natural History, Manhattan
New York Botanical Gardens (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens)
Menil Collection, Houston
Rothko Chapel, Houston
LA County Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles
Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe
Georgia O'Keefe Museum, Santa Fe
Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Santa Fe
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Uffizi, Florence
The Vatican, Rome
Montana Auto Museum/Old Prison, Deer Lodge, Montana
National Gallery of Art, D.C.
Smithsonian, D.C.
The Philips Collection, D.C.
National Portrait Gallery, D.C.
The Louvre, Paris
Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Places I've Traveled and Loved and Sometimes Lived In
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Island of Perhentian
Sydney, Melbourne
New Zealand
Argentina, Buenos Aires
All 50 States
Bryce Canyon, Utah
Zion, Utah
Arches, Utah
Alaska, Juneau, Gustavus, Haines
Santa Fe
Los Angeles
Glacier National Park
Little Bighorn
Mexico, La Pesca
Canada, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto
England, Taunton, London, Oxford, Lake Country, Isle of Wight
Scotland, Edinburgh
Ireland, Dublin, Galway, Cork, Cliffs of Moher
Turkey, Istanbul, Izmir
Italy, Sorrento, Capri, Rome, Florence, Milan, Pompeii, Bologna, Sestri Levante, Genoa, Riomaggiore
France, Nice, Marseilles, Paris
Spain, Madrid, Barcelona
Austria, Vienna
Switzerland, Geneva
Germany, Munich
Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Zagreb
Greece, Athens, Chios, Corfu
Portugal, Lisbon
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico
Hong Kong

Film Faves
Blast of Silence
Mood Indigo
All Night Long (1962)
Breakfast Club
Osterman Weekend
400 Blows
Day for Night
Jules et Jim
Bed and Board
Love at 20
Small Change
Pierrot le Fou
Masculin Feminin
Au Revoir, les Enfants
My Life as a Dog
Elevator to the Gallows
Murmur of the Heart
How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog
Deconstructing Harry
A River Runs Through It
The Ox-Bow Incident
Broken Arrow (1950)
Beckett on Film (all 19 of Beckett's plays filmed)
Dead Poets Society
Waking Life
Before Sunrise
A Scanner Darkly
Shaun of the Dead

Photo below is the cover art for The Reclusives.  By Bill Havranek.


A reviewer was an archeologist.  On the other hand, writing that novel was like being the first person to graffito a cave with hieroglyphics.  He wanted to be the studied, not the studier.  No matter how many credits his job of reviewing received, its debits far outweighed them and he couldn't help but think he was in some horrible debt that had consumed him.  Years had passed criticizing prosaic texts written by average people and he was beginning to think that he needed to become ordinary as well.  Or already had.  Excerpt from"Edible Harmonica" in The Reclusives

Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, Vermont.  Where I studied for my M.A. in English and M.Litt. in African-American Studies.

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