I've been typing up some notes that I took while at Clarion (mostly because, while I usually have perfectly legible handwriting, my Clarion notes are cramped and scribbly). We had many books recommended to us, or mentioned as examples, so I've been putting them together into a list...
WEEK ONE (with Kelly Link)
1. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Scott came and talked to us later. He has fascinating ideas about story and structure.
2. Feed by MT Anderson
3. "Start the Clock" by Benjamin Rosenbaum
4. The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror by John Clute
5. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
6. Angela Carter and Cormac McCarthy
Kelly mentioned them specifically as examples of writers who use a dense setting to give a sense of the geography of characters.
7. "Ringing The Changes" by Robert Aickman
8. What It Is by Lynda Barry
9. A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson (romance)
I'm slightly suspicious of this as it's a romance novel involving ballet dancers, which is dangerous territory...
10. In The Woods by Tana French
11. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by MT Anderson
This book is incredible. It's one of the few on this list that I had read before going to Clarion. It was nothing like I expected it to be, and I think I admired it even more because of that.
12. Life Is Funny by ER Frank
13. "Sea Oak" by George Saunders
14. The Melancholy of Anatomy by Shelley Jackson
15. A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot
I was so enamoured with Japrisot's name that I borrowed part of it for a character in a story.
16. Grace Paley
Kelly suggested that I look at her work for examples of clean, well put together dialogue. Her stories are very strange and quite compressed, and some of them ring through my head while others fall flat. It's really interesting.
17. Peter Dickinson
I love Peter Dickinson, particularly his older works, so it was fun to meet someone else who was also disappointed by how few of them are kept in American bookshelves (my store doesn't have any of them, not even King And Joker or The Dancing Bear, which I read at the library a long time ago and, when I discovered that I couldn't buy it at the store, was tempted to steal).