I was once driving through Denver when I saw a bearded poet type in his front yard with tons of books on the ground. Skerrrrrr! Hipster Garage Sale, got to stop. Picked up some Greek tragedies and a copy of Zola‘s Germinal, remembering that someone had recommended it to me.
Lo and behold, it is the influence to Fritz Lang‘s silent masterpiece Metropolis that I wore out on VHS in high school. A seminal book in the Naturalism genre, it observes life and tells it like it is, every nitty gritty dirty detail. It was a turning point for me to see how well you could use art to tell the truth and make a big change. Thank you, Hipster Garage Sale!
A few years later I got a chance to meet up with a wise second cousin who was a professor. He taught Zola, which delighted the pattern finder in me.
photo taken at Denver Art Museum