Influences 5: Sasha Fletcher
1) Pick one of the pieces you chose and describe the thing about it that seems particularly innovative about it.
2) Tell me what changed about your writing because of that innovation.
Answers after the jump:
in tenth grade i was given both fear and loathing in las vegas and the story lost in the funhouse. what seemed innovative (at the time, and even now, i’d probably use the term ‘mindblowing’). that isn’t how i think i want this to go. i don’t really think that innovative is what made them important at the time. up until them, i was under the impression that stories were to be told a certain way. that the sentences that were in my head were not the way sentences were supposed to be written. that a story had to follow an arc and it had to go somewhere and do something and only by following the arc could it do that. that everything should be straightforward. that this was how things were told. and then suddenly i found out that this wasn’t the case and things could really be done however it was that they made the most sense to you.
i also feel that i should mention actual air. if i hadn’t read actual air i doubt i would have kept writing poetry. granted, i don’t know much about poetry, and i knew even less when i started, but for me poetry was some strange idea. it was something that always seemed one step removed from my life and everything i knew. actual air made poetry seem like something that was human and that anyone could have. that i could have. it made poetry seem like something real and every day and fucking important. it made me write all sorts of david berman ripoffs for a good year or so. that would be probably the most direct influence on my writing. but if i hadn’t read that book i probably would never have really given a shit about poetry. or maybe i would have at some point. but actual air is the book that made me give a shit about poetry. that made me really fucking care about it.
An often repeated—and, frankly, brilliant—section of Fear and Loathing:
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run…but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. …
“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. … You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. …
“And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. …
“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”