This is an ill-advised adventure! I wanted to list my favourite pieces of writing across ALL media. What an impossible task! There will be a million things I have forgotten but maybe that is the point - capturing the writing that first comes to mind. Childhood favourites; things that move me; influence me as a writer; inspire me to be a better writer. Not necessarily the best but writing I have some connection to. I don't even know where to start... but here goes.
1. The West Wing, Seasons 1-4 (Teleplays) - Aaron Sorkin
It's no secret Aaron Sorkin is my favourite writer and even with his Oscar I still consider TWW his masterpiece. It is massively influential on me as a writer and you will see excerpts and a list of my favourite parts throughout this blog. Sorkin turns dialogue into music and his behind-the-scenes approach to writing television is one I have embraced whenever I venture, if ever so briefly, into that world.
2. Dulce Et Decorum Est (Poem) - Wilfred Owen
The great World War One poet who tragically died in the last days of the war. I studied him at Scotch College and topped my English Literature class. Safe to say, my favourite poet and this is a blistering account of the horrors of that most horrific of wars.
3. Who's on First? (Comedy skit) - Abbott and Costello
The great comedy skit that is beautifully written (and performed). There is a joy of word play here that really resonates with me - it is smart and clever and very, very funny.
4. Pulp Fiction (Screenplay) - Quentin Tarantino
I like the movie but I LOVE the screenplay. Brilliantly written and such a fresh, exciting voice at the time. If you reassemble the story into chronological order it is quite a simple one, but the fractured time narrative and the startling dialogue and yes, use of violence mark this as a fantastic read.
5. Hamlet (Play) - William Shakespeare
Another piece that was studied at high school. So dense, so complex, so ambiguous and written by perhaps the greatest dramatist we will ever know. A massive achievement in a career of them.
6. Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (Novel) - Douglas Adams
I adored this as a kid. The irreverence, the imagination, the off kilter sense of humour. Sadly, it has never really been done justice on the small or big screen but it is a brilliant piece of comedy writing.
7. The Sixth Sense (Screenplay) - M. Knight Shyamalan
There are plenty of screenplays I could list as my favourites. This one, however, stands out for the sheer restraint in the writing. It could have been so easy to drive this tale of a boy who sees dead people off a cliff but it is handled so beautifully and the twist is so elegantly crafted.
8. The Last Resort (Lyrics) - Glenn Frey & Don Henley
A surprise entry and again, even more songs I could list, but this one that ends The Eagles' monster Hotel California album strikes a chord because of its theme - "how man inevitably destroys the places he finds beautiful." Epitomised by the lyrics - "You call some place paradise/kiss it goodbye." Haunting and pointed in its commentary.
9. The Thomas Covenant Chronicles (Novels) - Stephen Donaldson
It was a toss up between this and E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman series - both massive influences when I was growing up. I've never read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. THIS was my fantasy world - a leper who confronts Lord Foul in The Land brandishing the ultimate power - his white gold wedding band - that he cannot wield. Inspired, frustrating, breathtaking.
10. The Argument Sketch (Comedy sketch) - John Cleese & Graham Chapman
My favourite Monty Python sketch which beats out Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound for last spot on this list. What I always liked about Python, even at their silliest, is there is always an intelligence at work and this is razor sharp.
So there you have it. I'll probably revisit this list over and over but for now it's not a bad summation.
What do you think of the list? What would be on yours?