Bibliography
January 15, 2011
Word Riot
David Hoenigman
An Interview With Ken Wohlrob by David Hoenigman
I just saw an amazing exhibit by Gottfried Helnwein
And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was greatly influenced by painters. Often, the spark of an idea for a story comes from a painting I’ve seen. For me, certain painters are great storytellers, better than most writers. It is the power of suggestion in their work, the bits and pieces left up to your own brain that try to make sense of what is transpiring in the image. I just saw an amazing exhibit by Gottfried Helnwein that did that.
Ken Wohlrob is the author of Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, a new collection of short stories, and The Love Book, both published by Bully Press. He was the co-founder and editor of Bully Magazine for six years. His work has also appeared in Opium, The New York Press, Six Sentences, and Go Metric.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
In addition to all the writers I’ve already mentioned – O’Connor, Vonnegut, Bukowski, Fante, Lewis, Mishima, and Robbe-Grillet — there are also some key writers such as Mavis Gallant whose short-story writing really taught me quite a bit. Evelyn Waugh and Mark Twain taught me how to create a dark sense of humor with balance. And honorable mentions go to Georges Simenon, Ray Bradbury, Balzac, and Albert Camus.
I also can’t give enough credit to Japanese writers like Kōbō Abe, Shusaku Endo, Kenzaburō Ōe, and Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, who have had a big impact on my writing over the past several years. Being that I had already developed a somewhat simpler writing style, their ability to craft prose that is boiled down to its simplest essence, not a single word wasted, really hit home with me. Those guys are masters. I wish more MFA writers read people like Abe or Ōe.
Music has also been very important to my writing style. I often craft stories as if they’re songs and think about the plot in terms of timing and impact. I’ll usually write to music and in certain cases have a particular song that fits a story. I considered the last story in The Love Book, “Taking the Happy Bus on Home,” the “When the Levee Breaks” of the collection – that final epic track.
And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was greatly influenced by painters. Often, the spark of an idea for a story comes from a painting I’ve seen. Seeing Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch Bauer I at the Neue Gallery in New York City gave me the inspiration for “Job in Williamsburg” in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. For me, certain painters are great storytellers, better than most writers. It is the power of suggestion in their work, the bits and pieces left up to your own brain that try to make sense of what is transpiring in the image. I just saw an amazing exhibit by Gottfried Helnwein that did that as well.
(Excerpt from the interview)




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