With this year’s edition of the Word on the Street festival set to run from September 28 to 30, we asked some of the writers on the wildly diverse bill to tell us about the reading experiences that shaped them. Which book left deep impressions early on? Which one overhauled the way they see and think about the world, and set them on a path to a literary life?
Here’s what Tom Osborne told us. He’s a Maple Ridge poet, novelist, and illustrator, and the author of the new novel Budge.
Osborne will be reading from his work at 11:40 a.m. on September 30, in the Canada Writes Tent outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
I guess I could say Richard Brautigan was the first big influence on me writing at all (The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar). So I started writing poetry (late ’60s) & have had a few books of poems published. (I also liked his novels: Trout Fishing in America, etc.)
As far as writing novels goes, though, I'd definitely have to say that J.P. Donleavy's stuff has had the most influence on my fiction writing (The Onion Eaters, The Ginger Man, to name a few).
Honourable mention to two other literary influences on my life throughout the ’70s & early ’80s: local poet Jon Furberg (a true poet in his own right) & local writer Donald M. Fraser, a true bard of the pen. Sadly they are both deceased.