Here are five books I love, chosen from my shelf of lifelong keepers—four novels and one children's book. All have influenced, sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly, the writing of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.
By Cormac McCarthy
Though some of Cormac McCarthy's other novels have gotten more attention lately, I have a special fondness for the meandering road followed by Cornelius Suttree, a man awakening from a self-imposed exile in the terrible-mystical underworld of 1950's Knoxville, Tennessee. Part of what makes this book so captivating is Suttree's own fascination with the characters he encounters, including a figure referred to as "the Country Mouse," an Appalachian dervish of a man whose appetite for mischief defies polite description. Alternately bawdy and tender, raucous and poetic, shot through with spectacular prose riffs and forehead-smackingly great dialogue, there is nothing else like it in the McCarthy canon. Which, as Cormac McCarthy aficionados know, is saying something.