Books about writers!
Hello, welcome to the very sporadic top five feature which happens now and again because I’m too much of a commitment phobe to do this regularly, basically, here are five of my favourite books that feature writers.
I dunno about you guys, but I kind of live and breathe words. I am literally paid to write stuff on a day by day basis, and even when I’m not paid I do it anyway because I enjoy writing so much. Even so, when I write, I have never been able to create a character that is also a writer, I guess such a person would be a little too close to home, but I love finding characters who are writers when I’m reading. It makes me feel like I’m part of an in joke or something, it’s the irony of it, that this person who writes for a living, or a hobby or whatever, has been created by someone who does the self same thing. I’m working on a project at the moment which is about someone writing their memoirs, which is why I thought I’d dig into my favourite books featuring writers so I could actually get this thing done.
Z a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – Therese Ann Fowler
As the title suggests, this is about Zelda, wife of Scott, and so features many, many writers. Namely, Scott, Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, T S Eliot, you know, that whole ex pat crew that hung around in France having parties in the twenties and of course, it’s about Zelda, who was a pretty awesome writer herself as it goes. I know these people were all actual writers, but it is a fictional account of those writers and it had a lot of instances of Zelda watching Scott put together a book, or pinning his hopes on his latest story. Also, it had a wonderful quote in it which I featured on this blog once: “”I’m a novelist,” Scott replied, putting on his top coat, “by definition I live in a world of make believe.”” Which makes me think that maybe Scott Fitzgerald and I weren’t all that different.
The Paris Wife – Paula Mclain
In a similar vain to that above, the Paris Wife is the story of Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. Unlike Zelda, Hadley didn’t write herself, but it features pretty much the same cast as the book about her life. Where it differs from Z a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is that although Zelda was interested in Scott’s work, there weren’t many instances of her reading it or critiquing what he’d written. In this book about Hadley’s life, you see her reading Hem’s work and giving her opinion on it, you see her watching him hide himself away for months, tapping away on typewriters, planning a book and the things that gave him inspiration which was utterly fascinating.
Inconceivable – Ben Elton
There is a film version of this, which I strongly recommend, it has Hugh Laurie in it and was retitled, Maybe Baby. Basically, this is the story of a screen writer who is trying to get the motivation to write his great masterpiece and impregnate his wife all at the same time. Which leads him to the grand idea that maybe he should write about their woes in trying to conceive a child, a brilliant sit com is born, but he has the small issue of not really knowing how to ask his wife if he can pitch it. It’s all kinds of hilarious and I love it because I try really hard not to base any fictitious people on anyone I know in real life, just so I don’t end up in a similar situation.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
I read and fell in love with this not that long ago and oh dear God, this is all kinds of good. Basically, it is the semi autobiographical tale of Jack’s life on an American road trip of sort. It tells the tale of Sal Paradise who is working on his first novel, but feels like he hasn’t had enough experiences to make the novel good so he decides to head out on the road chasing his crazy friend Dean across the states desperately living out that grass is greener mentality and never really finding anything better. He got a cracking novel out of it though, so there must be something in it.
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This book you guys, this might just be my most favourite book ever.
So, again, it’s semi autobiographical and is all about Sylvia’s life in ‘the bell jar’ where she was diagnosed and dealing with a mental illness, the lead character, Esther is a young woman who wants to write and starts off at an internship working for a magazine in New York, which she loves, only for that internship to end and for her to wind up back in her home town, scared, lost and alone with nothing but a head full of words where she slowly descends into madness. Esther is me, I am her, we are one and as such, there is nothing more I can say on this book, just, grab a copy and read it, you won’t regret it.
And so, those are my top five novels that feature writers in the cast. Other honourable mentions go to A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway, Wonder Boys – Michael Chambon, Little Women – Louisa May Alcott and of course Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout. If any of you know of any more books that feature writers I would love to know about them so I can add them to my ever expanding TBR list!