|Matthew Murphy reveals his Favorite Book.|
As an author, I especially like to hear about an author's favorite books--those read several times through the years. I like to know how a book inspires, informs, and/or elevates an author's work.
Today, I'm pleased to welcome Matthew Murphy to SlingWords. Matthew's latest novel, No Man's Land, is about World War I, and the soldiers who lived, fought, and died in the trenches. WWI brought the first chemical weapons into play in the modern era.
About Matthew D. Murphy
Matthew Murphy has been learning, living and writing for several years. His experiences living across America have contributed to interesting worlds he has created in his work.
He is the author of four novels: A Western Fable, Manifest Destiny, The Woods, and, most recently, No Man’s Land.
Matt lives outside Chicago, Illinois, with his wife, two children, and two dogs. You can find Matt online here: Twitter * Facebook * Amazon Author Page * Instagram.
Cat's Cradle: My Favorite Book
by Matthew D. Murphy
After college I worked part time as an on-air producer for an AM talk radio station. Daily, I played back recordings and live satellite broadcasts of rabid political pundits.
Between commercial breaks, when I would be waiting to press play for each ad, I would read.
Once I was reading Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. It was taking me months to work through that book. I loved it. Read it twice, but it is a dense read, and, on my first go-through, it was a slog.
One of the station copywriters caught on to what I was reading. He would stop by and talk to me about the book to gauge how much I liked it. One day he came in with a small paperback and said if I liked Gravity’s Rainbow, I would love this book. It was Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut.
Of course he was right. I loved the collection the of bizarre and wonderful short stories. From there I began to devour all of Vonnegut’s books. Through the next year I read and re-read every one the library had. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t come across his books before. It was like opening my eyes for the first time all over again. I had no idea there were books this perfect for me. Everything was there: sex, aliens, characters so strange that they were too real, and a style that no other writer came close to.
Vonnegut was described as a humorist, though I always thought of him as a humanist. No other of his works fit this word better than Cat’s Cradle.
|Image, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons|
I came across that book in a used book store. It was thin, with an orange cover, and perfect 1960’s era images of a smiling sun, mushroom cloud, and two hands making the titular tangle of strings.
The edges of the pages were dyed green, giving the cheap pulp paperback the look of classic literature that it deserved. Inside, the pages had the smell of that intoxicating perfume of aged parchment and the written word.
The book was thin. I could slip it into my back pocket and take it anywhere and everywhere. It was the bible of what I thought a perfect book should be. Simple yet complex, stripped of the sin of over-writing and devoid of filler.
After college I had become uninterested in reading for pleasure. Years of reading books in order to discover themes and hidden meanings wore out my desire to crack open another book. Discovering writers like Pynchon and Vonnegut, with their irreverent take on the horrors of humanity saved me.
Cat’s Cradle hit all the right points: black humor, the lunacy behind the bureaucracy of war, made up religions, absurd characters that aren’t absurd, and an epic sweep that flies by in less than 200 pages. The invention and imagination that went into the book blows me away every time I flip through it.
Vonnegut’s words flow off the page in a musical cadence I can only dream of matching. It’s my go-to book. Whenever I am devoid of ideas or blocked while trying to develop a story of my own, I reread for inspiration. During any excruciatingly long wait, if I need to grab something to read, I always take Cat’s Cradle.
|Great books are magical!|
The attendant went back to look for the book, but the plane had already been cleared out. I was heartbroken. That special orange covered book had been with me for years. Now it was gone.
I took some solace in the fact that maybe someone else had picked it up and would cherish the story as much as I did. How could they not?
Years later I was at a church sale rummaging through the 25 cent paperbacks, when to my surprise and joy I found not one, but two copies identical to the version I had left on the plane. Of course, I bought them both.
Between moves I lost one, but as I write this, the last copy sits before me. Someday, when they are old enough, I will pass the book onto my kids. Until then I will sit back and once more look for inspiration from within its pages.
As fighting in the trenches of World War I drags on, a pair of American scientists appear at the front with a solution. Unbeknownst to the soldiers in the trenches but planned by the generals at the rear, the Americans have brought a gas that will change the course of the war and bring an end to the bloodshed.
After a bloody charge at the German lines, the British generals order the launch of the special gas that brings their army back from the brink of destruction and sets them about on the unsuspecting German lines.
Add No Man's Land to Your Library
Matt's book is available at: Amazon and Goodreads. Check out his profile and available books at Smashwords.
The weekend is here. Why not pick up a copy of No Man's Land? It's free on Kindle Unlimited and only $1.99 to purchase. Have a great reading weekend!