Is it just coincidence that ALL the last four books that I randomly chose are written about writers writing? It all started with…
The Ghostwriter – Philip Roth. Lent to me by a publisher (who is publishing my friend Rebecca’s book this fall), who suggested I read it because it talks about the frustration of writing and authenticity. It’s the story of a young writer who meets his literary idol, a fantasizing of Anne Frank’s story, and about art, morality, and conscience.
Ask the Dust – John Fante. Recommended by my friend Julie, who loves Fante and recommended him highly to me. I already wrote about this one, but in short: a writer with writer’s block constantly searching for inspiration and idolatory and the Big idea, finally confronted by something more powerful than his own ego.
The Book of Dave – Will Self. So, a couple weeks ago I looked up the Guardian for a recommendation, and read that Self had just won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, and I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to read something funny. And I browsed the Toronto Public Library database and found The Book of Dave with no real description, so I borrowed it. It’s a trippy, satirical, hysterically funny novel about a post-Apocalyptic London that reveres a book retrieved from an archaeological dig, the Book of Dave, as its holy text by which all civilization must be structured. Except that the book, pre-Apocalypse was written by a cockney London taxi driver called Dave. I’ll leave you to imagine the rest, only it defies imagination. Language itself turns inside out, and nothing is what it means.
The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster. Again, recommended to me by Julie. I’m still going through this one, but so far, it’s a writer, Quinn, who writes detective stories because he can’t write “real” fiction anymore, or at any rate, fiction that he is proud of, until, one day he gets a call from a character asking for Paul Auster (Writers? Egotistical? Hm.) to save his life. So Quinn poses as Auster, a detective to solve the mystery. My god, metafiction.
Anyway, I recommend all three. I was particularly taken by Self’s book. I just think he’s so darn smart.