Craig Finn is the lead singer of a band called The Hold Steady and I have always loved his songwriting. Finn is something like a poet laureate of Midwestern malaise, extracting tragicomic pathos from a particular kind of exurban fuckery that speaks to my southern Ontario upbringing. So many of Finn's songs are like perfectly crafted short stories, filled with drunk townies and grimy bus stations, sad teenage fuck-ups wandering around in search of booze or pills or both. But Finn has a light touch when it comes to misery, and clearly loves his flawed characters, suffusing so much of his writing with a longing that almost passes for hope; hope for escape, for love, for something so basic and human as a moment of stability. So I wasn't surprised to see who his favorite writers are, as told to the Pittsburgh City Paper in this recent interview: I have always read fiction, so at first, it was like whatever was around. The things that really turned me on in high school were the classics—Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, that kind of stuff. Now, a lot of it is just the literary stuff that lots of people read. Philip Roth. Richard Russo. George Saunders. Tom Perrotta. I love Denis Johnson. Right now, I'm reading Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, the Scottish author who wrote Shuggie Bain . I also like Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, the hard-boiled stuff. Yeah, just white guys. (For the record, almost all of whom […]
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