Carmen Maria Machado
From her collection of short stories, ‘The Husband Stitch’ is one that will stay with me forever. Machado’s writing is visceral, it pierces through the many layers of relationships between characters and leaves you wistful and wanting in the best possible way.
Nin, who called herself, ‘the Madam of this snobbish literary house of prostitution,’ wrote deep and complicated, uncomfortable erotic stories for an anonymous collector in the 1940s for money. Nin’s psychological approach to erotic stories weaves a magical balance of taboo, arousal and shame, her subtle handling of writing in detail about sex inspired me to write my own collection.
I met Adam Marek in a seminar while I was at university, he spoke about his first short story collection, ‘Instruction Manual for Swallowing.’ His stories are surreal and fantastic, but at their core, they all examine aspects of the human condition with a lick of absurd humour.
The first time I picked up Perdido Street Station I thought, ‘This had better be worth 623 pages of my time,’ and it absolutely was. Miéville’s brand of alternative fantasy is of the dilapidated, rusty type that I’m enamoured by, the antithesis to the gleaming futures of traditional science fiction.
The Bell Jar has always been my favourite book, my English teacher at college told me I’d find a new favourite book one day – sorry, Tony, you were wrong. I keep a copy of her collected poems beside my bed, and whichever one I read becomes my favourite for that moment.
Sophie Gregory lives in Brighton, UK, and her work has been published online and in print by Twist in Time magazine, Blink Ink Print, Lecker Zine and Mythic Picnic. Find her on Twitter @esseegee