Influential Books: Part 4

This is the fourth part of a series of entries discussing various books that deeply influenced my writing and outlook on stories.  You can read the Introduction here, Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.  Please note that discussion of these books may contain spoilers.

The next round of influential books didn’t come until I entered college.  Granted, I found lots of books that I loved between the age of 12 and 18, but truly influential books are much rarer.  In my freshman year, I discovered anime and manga.  Last Exile was the first anime I ever watched (I’m not counting random Pokemon episodes I saw when I was little), and reading manga soon followed.  A six-year obsession with all things Japanese had begun.  During that time, I read and watched so much anime that I needed a list to keep track of them all.  Three series stick out in my mind from that time that remain favorites and powerful influences.

Image via mangahere.com

Image via mangahere.com

The first of these was Pet Shop of Horrors by Matsuri Akino.  This 10-volume series is a horror manga, not my usual genre of choice.  It’s both beautiful and eerie, revolving around a pet shop in Chinatown run by the enigmatic, androgynous, and  amoral proprietor known only as “Count D.”  Each volume contains about four stories of various people who come into the pet shop and leave with a pet…under certain conditions.  Like in Gremlins, disobeying D’s instructions as to the care and feeding of their pets often results in calamity.  Sometimes the pets are helpful to their new owners, but most of the time it ends in tragedy.  Weaving through these tales alongside D is Leon Orcot, a detective who is sure that D has something to do with the various mysterious deaths throughout the city, but is unable to come up with any proof.

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Influential Books: Part 3

This is the third part of a series of entries discussing various books that deeply influenced my writing and outlook on stories.  You can read the Introduction here, Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.  Please note that discussion of these books may contain spoilers.

Image via mycomicshop.com

Image via mycomicshop.com

 While writing these “Influential Books” posts, I’ve noticed that most of these books were read between the ages of 8 and 12.  I’m pretty sure I was 11 when I picked up a copy of The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore.

It was after we’d moved, but we still came back to my hometown in Maryland occasionally.  I think we stopped to get Chinese food or maybe we stopped by the hardware store.  Either way, we had a little extra time, so Mom and Dad let us go into a nearby bookstore.  I had $20 of birthday money in my pocket; a small fortune to me.  I prowled through the shelves, not looking for anything in particular, although I always wanted to buy as many books as possible.  Then I noticed the lurid cover of the February 2000 paperback Collector’s Edition of The Dark Elf Trilogy, which promised to contain the first three books of the Chronicles of Drizzt: Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn.  That got my attention.  I love omnibuses, origin stories, and complete sets, plus I’d never heard of a “dark elf” before, so I bought it.

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