By Heidi Simmons
Since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, male authors have dominated the written word. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Edger Allen Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.D. Salinger, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Raymond Carver, Dr. Seuss, and the list of great authors goes on and on and on.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine life without great literature. The worlds that have been created and traveled in the pages of all kinds of wonderful books have entertained, informed and inspired generations of readers.
For me, it is the most exciting thing I can do — get lost in a great story. It’s difficult to choose favorite writers when stories and style vary so greatly, but there are certain authors who can rock my world.
For the CVW Men’s Issue, I thought about fiction writers who are alive and working that genuinely excite me.
Here is my short list of some of the men who turn me on: Stephen King, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Salmon Rushdie, Carl Hiaasen, Ken Follett and Dennis Johnson. These men are giants at the top of their game. These authors always show me a good time.
For a long time I avoided Stephen King for reasons that were just silly. I thought he was beneath me because he only wrote gruesome horror. Not completely true, he is a literary master. His short stories are amazing and his novels are filled with complicated and provocative characters that stir the heart and mind King is a brilliant psychoanalyst and it’s fascinating to see how twisted life can become in dangerous and forbidding circumstances. I’ll read everything now no matter how much blood is shed. Take me King, I’m yours. Favs: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (Short Story) The Shining (Novel).
What a discovery when I came across Richard Ford. My life changed for the better and I never looked back. Ford gave me an experience I’ll never forget out on the back roads of the Great Plains. He’s a man’s man and in his worlds there is no fairness, no Karma and no justice. Favs: Rock Springs (Short Story) Canada (Novel).
I love to get down and freaky with Neil Gaiman. His imaginative, tantalizing, and very strange worlds merge into the known world creating a space that is both beautiful and frightening. Often dark and disturbing, I don’t mind trusting him when the world goes black. Favs: Coraline (Novella) American Gods (Novel).
Creative, imaginative and exotic, Salmon Rushdie is my mystic hero. He taught me there is no need to be searching for allegory or hunting for metaphor, just let your mind wander free and go with the flow. Favs: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (Novel) Luka and the Fire of Life (YA).
There is nothing quite like kicking back and relaxing with Carl Hiaasen. I can hardly wait to hang out in the Florida Keys, drink some kind of tropical blend of alcohol, smoke some local weed and watch in a bikini as chaos unfolds. Hiaasen is cool and way fun. I’d get a tattoo with Hiaasen Fav: Skinny Dip (Novel).
Ken Follett is a master, a genius and irresistible. I’ll go anywhere with this man! He can take me away to a place and I won’t ever want to come back. The details in a world created by Follett are so vivid and gritty that the reader lives on the page with the characters. Fav: Pillars of the Earth (Novel).
Sexy and dangerous, I’ll just say it, I love Denis Johnson. He is that bad boy who lives on the wrong side of the tracks and there is nothing you can do to stop me from going over to the dark side. Johnson provokes me and sometimes I admit I want to hit him, but that’s why he’s awesome. Favs: Jesus’ Son (Short Story) Nobody Move (Novel).
The way to a woman’s heart is through great stories and fantastic prose. Tease me, mistreat me, tell me you love me, but be sure it’s all on the page. Hugs and kisses to all my favorite men.