According to the Guardian, publisher Black Ocean is giving a lifetime subscription to the books they publish to anyone who gets a tattoo inspired by one of them. I’m too straitlaced for tattoos in general, but the idea at least of literary tattoos pleases me. Unlike, say, a tattoo of a cartoon character (why do people do that?) or the name of a person you love (and better hope you love forever, because not everyone’s going to be able to pull off a “wino forever” tattoo). By the time you’re of likely tattooing age, you’ve probably got some serious literary passions. And it’s a testament to the permanence of certain literary enthusiasms in our lives that this Christmas saw three members of my family exchanging the latest in a series they’d all started reading back in the 70s (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant).
I know that at least some DGLM clients have inspired tattooing among their fans (Jacqueline Carey and Richelle Mead in particular spring to mind), and it’s something that I can get behind, even if I can’t imagine getting one myself. But I still like to think about what literary tattoo I might get, if I woke up one day the sort of person who’d want a tattoo. The problem is most of my favorites don’t lend themselves well to such things. Looking back at my “great books” list from August 2009, not one of them seems to lend itself to tattooing—Mrs Dalloway’s flowers? The light from Gatsby? A 1984 tattoo probably actually makes sense, but I think that might send a more complicated message than “Wasn’t George Orwell great?” If I look back to childhood for something that’s of lasting significance (so I’d know I wouldn’t hate it in a week), I’m just not sure a Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet is something I’m going to ask someone to ink onto my flesh and something Dr. Seuss is probably just going to look like a bad idea I had while drunk. So maybe it’s for the best that I’m not the tattoo type.
What about you? Do any of you have literary tattoos? If you could get any literary reference tattoo, what would it be?