I interviewed Adam Ross for The Rumpus. I’m a big fan of his writing, and he had some really fascinating things to say. Here’s a piece of it:
Rumpus: Were there any particular writers or books that inspired you along the way? Who inspires you now?
Ross: Sure, I mean, like I said, I was bedazzled by everyone from Frank Herbert to Frank Miller. I loved Hemingway as a teen, was all puddled at the end of The Old Man and the Sea. Raymond Carver had taken over the world when I was at Vassar and for a while he took over mine. My Shakespeare class my sophomore year shook me to the core. I remember being rocked by the end of Richard II: “I’ve wasted time and now doth time waste me.” Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Heidegger’s Poetry Language Thought and Basic Writings. The hits just keep on coming. And who can forget…? After graduating, when I moved back to New York, I remember reading all of Walker Percy, each of his novels, twice. (His books on semiotics are great, by the way.) There was a long bout with Joseph Conrad. I began a ten-year streak of re-reading Homer’s Odyssey annually. And then I found Bellow and Roth and all the Jewish modernists, and then Calvino and Barthelme. And DeLillo—every newly published novel of his was an event. I remember exactly where I was when I read Pafko at the Wall.
Everything I read inspired me and that hasn’t changed. What’s floored me recently? James Salter’s Light Years, Burning the Days, and A Sport and a Pastime. He is a giant. I just read Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. It’s tremendous. Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was wonderful.
I can’t imagine turning into one of those codgers who no longer reads fiction. I’m regularly stirred by it and suffer no anxiety of influence. Influence me! That was my credo then, as I was developing and learning, and remains so now, as I’m developing and learning.