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Thread: Novels about/concerning writers or the act of writing

  1. #1
    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Novels about/concerning writers or the act of writing

    Ever since I started college, it's been very difficult to find inspiration to either read or write, and I was thinking that an ideal way to kill two birds with one stone would be to get together a group of books to read in which the act of writing plays a major part in the novel (along with other philosophical or psychological elements and themes). That way I am reading, and hopefully the reading will give me inspiration to write. So far, I have listed the following books, with all but the first two being re-reads:
    The Rosy Crucifixion by Henry Miller
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
    Ask the Dust by John Fante
    Hunger by Knut Hamsun
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    I am looking for recommendations of other books in the same vein, preferably first person narratives in which the author/protagonist makes a point in expressing their desires and struggles to write or be a writer. So, what, in your generally expert opinions, are the best books about writers?

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    O dark dark dark Barbarous's Avatar
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    The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
    The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding
    Orlando by Virginia Woolf
    Pale Fire by Vladimir
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
    Last edited by Barbarous; 01-03-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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    Registered User sixsmith's Avatar
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    The Zuckerman Novels - Philip Roth
    Elizabeth Costello - JM Coetzee
    The Information - Martin Amis
    Mao II - Don DeLillo
    Last edited by sixsmith; 01-04-2010 at 08:52 AM.
    'Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.' - Groucho Marx

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    Drama Queen
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    The best book I have read by a writer writing about his own work is The Story Of A Novel by Thomas Wolfe. Another good work by a writer about his own work is On Writing by Stephen King.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbarous View Post
    The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding
    ...
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
    I agree! (The others I haven't read, or not recently enough to comment.) Montaigne's Essays are a must. Hamlet is also useful here, with the 'play within a play' section.

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    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles.
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    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
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    Cool To get people enthused about college and reading .....

    perhaps the draft should be reinsituted. If you are faced with enthusiasm about college or going to Afghanistan, you might become more entusiastic about doing well in college.

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    Hemingway's memoirs (Moveable Feast) touch on this subject, in addition to his right jabs and left hooks at the competition
    http://unidentifiedappellation.blogspot.com/

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    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfloyd View Post
    perhaps the draft should be reinsituted. If you are faced with enthusiasm about college or going to Afghanistan, you might become more entusiastic about doing well in college.
    I never said anything about not being excited about college...My problem is that I'm having a hard time enjoying life outside of college. Not that I do anything fun or interesting in college, or have any friends, I'm just having a hard time getting enthused about my personal reading.

    Also, thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I'm going to start looking into the books mentioned.

  10. #10
    Registered User JackieGinger's Avatar
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    I don't know whether you can find this in English, but Paul Zarifolpol's In Favour of Literary Art is excellent. I'm reading it just now, and it's ... can't find my words to express how great it is

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Pale Fire
    The Habit of Art (it's a play but still...)
    Shakespeare's sonnets

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    Registered User neilgee's Avatar
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    Kafka's diaries:

    It is [to describe it figuratively] as if an author were to make a slip of the pen, and as if this clerical error became conscious of being such. Perhaps this was no error but in a far higher sense was an essential part of the whole composition. It is then as if this clerical error were to revolt against the author , out of hatred for him, were to forbid him to correct it, and were to say "No, I will not be erased, I will stand as a witness against thee, that thou art a very poor writer".

    Isn't most writing about writing pretty tortous stuff?

    Get out of here with the sonnets, kelby lake
    What are regrets? Just lessons we haven't learned yet - Beth Orton

  13. #13
    I find that the most inspiration novels aren't the ones where the writers are the protagonist but the writing itself is the actual inspiration. Most of the time prose seems to act as a far better "writing stimulant" than the actual plot.

    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
    Darkmans by Nicola Barker

    Or even try poetry like Eliot, Stevens, or Yeats.

    Hope this helps!

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    Registered User keilj's Avatar
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    Humiliated and Insulted by Dostoevsky

    Garden of Eden by Hemingway

    both really good books

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    If On A Winter's Night A traveller...

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