2013 - Classics, VOLUME 6

Doug Worgul – Writers on the Classics #9

Doug WorgulIn 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.

We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.


This week’s post in the series is by novelist Doug Worgul.

Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ #5 (Last Week) – John Wilson ]

Doug Worgul is the author of the Englewood Review’s 2012 Novel of the Year, Thin Blue Smoke. He was born into a family of preachers, teachers, and writers, in the state of Michigan. He now resides in Kansas City where barbecue and the blues are a way of life. A strong sense of place is a major theme in Doug Worgul’s fiction, as it has been in his career as a newspaper journalist and editor of regional and national magazines. He is a nationally-recognized authority on the history and cultural significance of American barbecue traditions. He is married and has four daughters.



[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0142000086″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511kAOSUW0L.jpg” width=”218″] [easyazon-link asin=”0142000086″ locale=”us”]Moby-Dick: or, The Whale [/easyazon-link]

By Herman Melville.

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I was quite young when I saw the Gregory Peck movie version of Moby Dick, which was several years before I read the novel. It’s hard to separate the two versions in my mind. The cold unforgiving sea, Ahab’s madness, the bleak rhythm of Melville’s prose, all haunt me still. In black and white and shades of gray.

[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0486280616″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/616aYC%2BUIfL.jpg” width=”210″] [easyazon-link asin=”0486280616″ locale=”us”]Adventures of Huckleberry Finn[/easyazon-link] By Mark Twain

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Twain’s masterpiece is the archetype and template for many subsequent genres of American novels (and the movies made from them), among them The Coming of Age Novel, The Road Novel, The River-as-Metaphor Novel, and The Buddy Novel. I had already read Tom Sawyer several times before I first read Huckleberry Finn. The difference between them, which at first startled and confused me, is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0486415864″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61S-Z-69B6L.jpg” width=”210″] [easyazon-link asin=”0486415864″ locale=”us”]Great Expectations[/easyazon-link] By Charles Dickens

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Reading this novel was transformative for me. It was the first of several primary influences on me as a writer, though I certainly did not know that at the time. Dickens created an entire world, into which I was completely absorbed. The density and complexity of the story, and the richness, wholeness, and quirkiness of the characters made a reader out of me. And being a reader comes before being a writer.

[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”1904633692″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51cAstM6ukL.jpg” width=”205″] [easyazon-link asin=”1904633692″ locale=”us”]A Christmas Carol[/easyazon-link] By Charles Dickens

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Christmas is my least favorite time of year. And more often than not I identify more closely with the “Humbug” Scrooge than with the “Go buy the big ass turkey in the window” Scrooge. That said, Dickens’ tale of redemption has a powerful and everlasting hold on me.


[ Click to continue reading Doug’s list on Page 2… ]

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