Hey Jealousy

July 16, 2009 at 12:00 am 8 comments

Occasionally after reading a book or just reading about it, one is struck with a certain kind of awe that is simultaneously deeply appreciative and flat-out jealous. Why? Because that book you just read is a book you wish you had written and it is just that good. This post is more of a discussion-starter than anything, but what books do you love so much you wish you had written? Or what books have you recently heard about that sound so creative you wish you could have written them?

Here are five I wish I had written:
1. Ex Libris by the incomparable Anne Fadiman. This, as you probably know, is my all-time favorite book, top of the heap, and possibly the best thing every written. It is absolutely perfect in my opinion and I would kill to have written it, or better yet, be able to write like it!

2. ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley. Okay, I’ve never read this, but I read about it and it’s just one of those ideas for a book that I wish I had thought of. The writing might be bad for all I know and the great starting idea might go absolutely no where plot-wise, but the idea of it really enchanted me and I wish I had come up with it!

3. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanne Clarke. England? Check. 19th century? Check. Napoleonic Wars? Check. Footnotes? Check. Fairies? Check! Why didn’t I come up with this?!

4. The Making of the Modern Self by Dror Wahrman. I wish I could think on as high a plane as this man and then write this absolutely brilliant book. Since I know that that is dreaming just a bit too high, I’m pretty content to hang out down here among the mortals and cite him at every given opportunity.

5. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Because she just writes the most beautiful sentences that so accurately convey Life. It’s amazing and I wish I could do it, too. (Similarly: Anything by Emerson. He’s another author who has the ability to perfectly articulate something I’m feeling in a way far more perfect than I could have ever hoped to. Literary kindred spirit!)

What are your five? Tell on, fair readers!


Entry filed under: Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Musings and Essays. Tags: , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. agirlcalledpurls  |  July 16, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I have more than five, I’m sure– as an MFA student, I find I stumble upon concepts, or a great plot line, or a particular character type I really want to write… only to think, “oh yeah, that would be the book by (insert author here).” I think there’s something to that old thing about everything already having been done before–though I’ve debated this with folks for hours. Either way you look at it, sometimes being a mimic is the greatest form of flattery–and when done well, it is called genius literary allusion ;) So I say, pick up your pen and mimic away–it’s surprising how much originality seeps into the salute to your favorite book or author.

    • 2. KT  |  July 16, 2009 at 10:48 am

      Oh, and hey, Purls! Welcome to LT :D

  • 3. Corey  |  July 16, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Yeah, I limited myself to five since I figured any longer would get rather dull for you!

    That aside, I completely agree with you in terms of just picking up the pen, but I’ve only recently got to that point. For a long time, I was so obsessed with doing something completely original and brilliant, that I just never actually wrote anything! That was hardly good for the old creativity, so I’m happy that I’ve now realized that even if your inspiration comes from a mimicking place, that doesn’t mean that whatever you’re writing is not still undeniably your own and can be quite original.

  • 4. KT  |  July 16, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Oh, ditto on 3 and 5, but I think I would have to pick a different Margaret Atwood book; even though that one’s really good, it’s not my favorite of hers. I’d also put Great Expectations, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and Northern Lights on my list :)

  • 5. Corey  |  July 16, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Ooo, Special Topics! Good choice! In terms of Margaret Atwood, that’s the only one of hers I’ve really connected with, so I’m standing by my man, so to speak. :)

  • 6. KT  |  July 16, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I see! The Edible Woman is still my favorite, I think, but I would rather have written The Robber Bride — EW is my favorite mostly for nostalgia purposes, and RB is much better written and SO GOOD. It doesn’t really have the historical aspect The Blind Assassin does, though, and I’m sure The Blind Assassin is technically better, I just like RB more ;)

    • 7. Kim  |  July 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm

      Aw, that really is a great book. I might go steal it off your bookshelf now…

  • 8. Corey  |  July 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I think I really need to give the Robber Bride a go. A few people have told me to read it…


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