// you’re reading...


Trade Loeffler p3

Trade Loeffler talks about some of his favorite books, and gives a good take on Shakespeare...

READERSVOICE.COM: You mentioned in your bio on your site that you had a few copies of Checkov and James Joyce and Faulkner on your shelves in the past. I was wondering if you thought they were a good influence on your writing now, or were they just something that interested you back then?

TRADE LOEFFLER: Gosh, I wish I could say that those authors were a good influence on my writing now. I would consider myself a much better writer were that the case. A lot of the stuff on my bookshelves are books that I’d read way back when I was in college. I leave those books sitting out on the bookshelf in our living room so that when we have company at our apartment I can trick them into thinking that I’m actually smarter than I appear. The illusion never gets too far though. As I think I said on my site, there’s Calvin and Hobbes and Dick Tracy books sitting on the same shelf, and I just took a quick look and noticed a set of Benny Hill DVDs piled up there also.
I do enjoy short fiction quite a bit, although I’m not as avid a reader as I used to be. Dubliners is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ll re-read that one every couple of years. A well-known author whose short stories I’ve recently discovered is Roald Dahl. His non-children stories are amazing.The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is one that I would recommend to everyone. It’s an absolutely beautiful story.

RV: You mention many books and comics you’d read over the years, in your notes to your web comic The Sky Kayak. I was wondering if you could give yourself a list of books to read, back when you were younger, what would be the main ones you’d include?

TL: That is a great question. There are a lot of books and comics that I adore now that if I’d read them when I was younger they either wouldn’t have interested me, or would have just zipped right over my head because I wouldn’t have understood them. I also like how the question implies that feeling of “if I only knew then what I know now.”

My wife is a theater actress, and has been in a lot of excellent productions of plays by William Shakespeare.
I had never been a fan of Shakespeare. His work, to me, always seemed very high-minded and inaccessible. His were stories that I was supposed to appreciate, but I never could. Part of my problem was that my introduction to his work was reading The Merchant of Venice (I think), and Othello back when I was in high school. Two stories I just had trouble relating to and thus getting interested in or excited about.

Recently, I’ve seen my wife perform in two excellent productions, one beingA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the otherTwelfth Night, and my opinion of the Bard has changed considerably. The plays are hilarious. I may take flak for saying this, because it’s Shakespeare, but those stories are really just sitcoms. The humor is driven by the audience being in on the gag while the characters are oblivious to it. Also, there are lots of dick jokes (can I say that?) which I can appreciate, and would definitely have appreciated when I was younger.
My wife tells me that they’ll have lots of high school classes come in to see the shows, and she finds that generally the high school students are the best audiences because they don’t have any preconceived ideas about how to approach Shakespeare and can take it for what it is and not be intimidated by it.

Another great work that I wish I’d been exposed to earlier is Milt Caniff’sTerry and the Pirates. I grew up readingSteve Canyon in the newspaper comics and enjoyed it, but I really knew nothing about Caniff’s earlier work on the Terry and the Pirates strip. I bought the complete collection published a few years ago by IDW and was blown away. That comic had it all: incredible artwork, exciting adventures, beautiful women, great heroes, nasty villains. I would have absolutely devoured these books when I was younger.
As a kid, I loved adventure stories, but it seemed like everything I read had an element of the fantastic to it. I’d read stuff like Doc Savage, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, any and all superhero comics. Terry and the Pirates is just as exciting as any of those, but the setting of the stories (before, during, and after World War II) is pretty realistic. I think the fact that you could have comics adventure stories like that set in real life would have been a real eye opener for me.

-continued next page
-copyright Simon Sandall.