Literary and Media Celebrities Cite Waugh’s Influence

In the past few days several celebrities from various media have stated in interviews that they had been influenced by the writings of Evelyn Waugh. In an interview by the book website Goodreads, US novelist Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City) had the following exchange: 

GR: What books and writers, beyond Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff, most influenced you?

JM: When I was young and struggling to find my own voice, some of the books that influenced me were The Sun Also Rises, and Evelyn Waugh was a big enthusiasm for me in my early 20s. Another book that was a huge influence on me was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which I think for all intents and purposes is really a novel. … Another book that was a big influence on me was The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy, a book that people don’t seem to talk about much anymore. The prose and wit were just electric. I also was influenced by Thomas McGuane, who I thought was a master of the language.

On another literary website, British novelist and journalist Laurie Graham was interviewed and, when asked, “What book do you wish you’d written?” answered:

I make no secret of my admiration for Evelyn Waugh and in particular I think A Handful of Dust is pretty much perfect. But every year I discover new (to me) writers whose talent I envy. This year’s discovery has been Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe stories.

Graham is probably best known for her 2000 comic novel Dog Days, Glenn Miller Nights

Canadian TV commentator Andi Petrillo was interviewed on the CBC’s book website before leaving for Brazil to cover the Olympic games and was asked about what sort of books she would take along. She made a list of 8 by category, among which was “The book that makes her laugh out loud”: 

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh. I caught myself laughing out loud many times reading this book. This is one of my favourite satirical novels. Instead of getting angry with the human pursuit of social status, this novel mocks it using humour by exaggerating our chase for it through how we depict ourselves even in death.

Finally, three other US novelists have mentioned Waugh as among their favorite authors in interviews published on the internet: Joseph Kanon (his favorite book to re-read is The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh), Paul Pickering and Donald Ray Pollock.

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