What Book/Author Changed Your Life?

Today I wrote an email to my favorite author, Nick Flynn.  Yes, I’ve reached that point of dorkiness in my life.  It’s actually quite a sad gesture on my part because it’s not like he’ll write back.  He’s busy filming a movie right now of his first memoir which also happens to be my favorite book, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.  A book that forever changed my life.  It’s the book that ushered me into writer-hood (writer-dom?) while I was in my first semester of my first year of grad school at Goddard for Creative Writing.  I read his book, annotated it with love and awe and then I was off, writing away, having fallen completely and hopelessly in love–not with Nick Flynn himself (although he is quite charming and humorous) but with his style, his craft, his idiosyncratic ways with words.  For me, he opened up a new dimension of thought in regard to one’s relation to words and their own life.  He gave me a never-before felt sense of openness–both as a reader and a writer.  As a reader he allows me to be pulled through the pages, lured like a floppy fish.  The ways in which he reconstructs his experiences on the page washes over my memory in indelible waves.  As a writer, he gave me a new way to absorb the words in my own world, he taught me how to look at everything as if it were a poem, as something from which meaning can eventually be extracted, no matter how minuscule or brutal or ugly or painful. 
I could go on and on all day about Nick Flynn but for fear of embarrassing myself even more than I already have today, I will stop.  But not before I ask you (and yes, there’s probably only one of you reading this, thank you, you know who you are):  What book/author changed your life?

“Every living thing has shoulders.”  — a poem written by a child in one of Flynn’s classes in New York (excerpt from his second memoir, The Ticking is the Bomb)
  

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