Cody Yeo is a familiar name around #AmReading. He is a contributing writer for the site, as well as a published author. Yeo has published a comic titled EPOCHS, as well as a short story series titled Thanks. It’s Not Much, But We Call It Home. He also writes stories for anthologies and reviews for websites. Cody’s unique approach to writing takes the craft back to its humble origins. In today’s world, it’s important to look outside the big publishing companies, and spread artistic prose and constant literary rejuvenation as an art form.
Cody is a young, talented writer whose voice shins on the page. Yeo listed some of the books he’s read that have influenced his writing, and his life. Both which are deeply linked for many, if not all, writers. Cody is the fourth person of this series of book lists loved by artists.
Previous to Cody, this spotlight included talented artists Kendra Deen (photographer), Caitlyn Chisamore (painter), and Alex Leggett (musician). It has been an exciting project from start to finish. Learning about what books inspire others brings light to what inspires my own work. Without further ado, here are the books that inspire Cody Yeo.
1. Paying For It by Chester Brown
“Paying For It is a graphic novel memoir by a cartoonist from Toronto. It tells the in depth story of his life after he gave up on traditional romantic love and decided to have sex exclusively with prostitutes. It was one of the first “alternative” comics I’d ever read and really opened my eyes to the world of comics beyond zombies and superheroes. I’ve now read everything he’s ever put out. There is no theme. He’s gone from surrealist comedy, to the Gospels, to a biography on Louis Riel. Chester Brown is my favorite cartoonist.”
2. The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger
“Like most stereotypical, angsty youths, I read The Catcher In The Rye in high school and it made me hate everyone. Looking back though, I feel like it was also a very comforting book. What I admire most about Salinger is his narration and dialogue. It’s all colorful voices saying things that actual people would say. Smart ass comments and moments of melancholic enlightenment. I lost my mom’s high school copy and I still feel bad about it.”
3. Factotum by Charles Bukowski
“I feel like I can divide my entire creative life into two categories: Before and after Bukowski. Factotum was the first thing I’d read by him. I was on a vacation in Myrtle Beach and the setting was perfect for his booze and woman fueled adventures. I fell in love with the classic, romantic concept of the ugly, drunk, womanizing poet. I’m also fascinated by the world of “quasi auto biographies” which I’ll mention again in another pick. Writing questionably true stories about himself under a character pseudonym has created a myth around the man, and his style is a major influence on my writing. I feel like some people would call it Gonzo writing, but I wouldn’t.”
4. The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
“Less is more, and Jeff Lemire understands that. The Underwater Welder is a graphic novel about a man in a Canadian ocean side town whose Father disappeared when he was young. The stylistic imagery mixed with the quiet tone of the story creates eerie vibes reminiscent of an episode of The Twilight Zone. Below the creepy surface though, lays a humble slice of life story about a man coping with the pressures of becoming a father. All of Jeff’s stories are very Canadian, and taught me to take inspiration from my own childhood and surroundings.”
5. It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken by Seth
“It’s A Good Life is another great “quasi autobio” story by the cartoonist Seth. This comic actually features his fellow friend and Torontonian, Chester Brown. Seth is also in Chester’s Paying For It. Along with Joe Matt, the three of them featured each other in their autobio comics. The themes of their memoirs tended to lean more towards their sexual confessions. Seth strayed away from that with It’s A Good Life and told the story of him searching for information on an obscure, almost mythical New Yorker cartoonist. The reason that this is not an actual memoir is up to the reader doing a little investigation for them self. It’s a smart, gorgeous comic about Toronto and rural Ontario. Google Seth just to see what he looks like.”
6. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
“I couldn’t tell you why I read this for the first time, but it’s one of my favorite novels. It tells the story of a small ocean side town (I’m seeing a pattern) and the peculiar residents who live there. It’s a very simple slice of life tale that will charm you more and more with every page. Realistic dialogue and the contrast of happiness and despair are what inspired me most from this story.”
7. Killing And Dying by Adrian Tomine
“I bought this book out of pure awkwardness. I was at the Toronto Comics Art Festival in 2015 and found myself lost on the third floor of the library. I was looking for a Lynda Barry presentation, and saw a large gathering of people which I knew wasn’t for her, but I joined anyways. It ended up being for Adrian Tomine, who I didn’t know, and Jillian Tamaki, who I had a comic to sign. After the presentation when I was in line to get my book signed, someone from the publisher asked if I had anything to be signed by Adrian. I said no, and they asked if I wanted to buy Killing And Dying. I panicked, bought the book, met Adrian, got it signed, and left hoping it didn’t suck. Killing And Dying is, in my opinion, the best short story ever written. It’s an emotional roller-coaster taking place in only twenty beautiful pages. The other short stories in the book are very good as well, showing off Tomine’s master comprehension of the comics medium.”
8. Different Seasons by Stephen King
“A very surprising amount of people have never read, or even heard about this book. It contains four short stories, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method, three of which became successful Hollywood films (The Body was changed to Stand By Me). None of these stories are horror, but stray away from the supernatural to show the actual darkness within humanity. The Body is also one of the greatest coming of age stories. Any young teen wanting to get into writing should read this book. Particularly The Body and Apt Pupil.”
It is often said that the key to being a good writer is to read. Considering this list of reads, Cody Yeo has what it takes to be one of the greats in the writing world. Aside from reading some seriously awesome books, Cody produces a podcast along with Kyle Hodge and Greg Moser, Two Versus Three. You can purchase his comics here.
What books inspire you to be you?
YouTube Channel: NReluctant
Featured image via Cody Yeo (Photographed by Skye Roberts)