Reading influences

“He judged on one question: influences. -Who’re your influences?” He is Jimmy Rabbitte, protagonist of Roddy Doyle’s first published book, the first novel in what would become his Barrytown Trilogy, “The Commitments.”

He’s put an ad in the paper, Jimmy has: “Jimmy spent twenty minutes looking at his ad in Hot Press the next Thursday. He touched the print. (-J. Rabbitte.) He grinned” (p. 20). It’s 1987, or earlier; no tellin’ what Jimmy’d done with a blog had he one – Doyle initially self-published “The Commitments.”

“When I’m writing I just think there’s only the page and me and nobody else” (Roddy Doyle, interview in Salon, Oct, 1999).

So there’s no reader, not an audience yet, looking over his shoulder. But sure the music’s on, and all the books you’ve ever read stacked clumsily all around, falling off the bookshelves you’ve built by hand in your mind, and there’s all these voices you’ve heard over the years, rattling around in your head, echoing off the walls, a confusion of some sort, like a ruckus going on outside, only it’s inside, and not only that but the sound’s stuck, stuck like a needle in a vinyl groove going round and round but not getting anywhere, not advancing toward some sort of completion, rest, respite, pause.

So, who are your influences? But it’s a question to ask yourself. And it’s a question that matters, and must be resolved.     

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