Thursday, June 26, 2008

Similar Books - A List...

Okay, I'm going to use as part of my research tool to find publishers that might want to publish, The World According to Boring John. I'm going to find similar books. Not possible, on one level, as WATBJ is completely unique (ha ha, how many writers say that about their books! lol), but possible on another level as I'm simply looking for weird.

(EDIT: Another research tool that does a similar thing is What Should I Read Next? which tells you what to read next based on the last book you've just read. It suggested The End of Mr Y based on Raw Shark Texts, for example.)

Here's the list of possible similar books:

  1. The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas (PopCo also.)

    this review on Amazon, "the end product is contrived, forced, try-hard, boring, pretentious nonsense" and the fact that a variety of non-fiction themes play an important role

    Not that I'm into pretentious (moi?) but it's a good enough way to describe WATBJ, I guess. :-(

  2. Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

    Reason: my friend (a writer) said it was weird and I would like it (and she's read a bit of WATBJ). Also, this review on Amazon has some resonances with WATBJ, "If postmodern literature has degengerated from behemoths, true greats, like Money by Martin Amis, to this, constantly referring to OTHER things, then where, I ask you, will greatness spring forth again?"

  3. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (London Fields is definitely not similar!)

    Reason: postmodern monologue (apparently) which is exactly what WATBJ is. Shame I'm not as clever and gifted a writer as Mr Amis, eh! Hmm.

  4. Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum also)

    Reason: Amazon reviewers claim it to 'experimental writing'. It includes "for reasons of padding, excerpts from [the character's] monumentally bad writing". Hmm, sounds familiar. I like this from one reviewer too, "In her latest book Kate Atkinson's teases the reader, backtracking and rewriting the plot, killing and resurrecting characters, indulging in word games and supplying her own ongoing critique." How funny.

  5. The Atrocity Exhibition by JG Ballard

    Reason: Hmm, not too sure. Lol

  6. Glass Soup by Jonathan Carroll

    Reason: No real reason, actually - it just looks an interesting ('magical') book.

  7. The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

    Reason: I like this comment from one Amazon reviewer: "I heartily recommend this book to those who enjoy novels that explore moral questions in challenging ways". Not that Boring John does this, but I'd like my next books to do so

  8. Finding Myself by Toby Litt

    Reason: Well any book that where a reviewer says this, "Nothing happens and yet still its good" has to get the Boring John vote! Lol And this comment from another reviewer, "...succeeds in commenting constantly upon its own structure while hardly ever becoming tiresomely self-referential" means that Finding Myself is my #1 pick, so far!

    Note to self: published as Lad Lit by Penguin Books Ltd!

    VERDICT: Toby's book is (to me) metafictional chick-lit. I loved all the cross-outs and references to writing, and readers, and being a writer, but it was still - alas! - chick lit. I CAN see lots of similarities to what the book represents to Toby. It feels like Toby is reflecting on how an author, namely Toby Litt, would write a 6th novel. Toby comes up with a writer-character called Victoria About, an idea for a 6th novel in synopsis form, and the mostly unedited manuscript of how that book idea turned out. That is Finding Myself.

    Whilst Boring John is me reflecting on how I would write a first novel, with all the non-twists and turns, and all the pressures on a first time writer getting to grips with the main character, etc.

    YES I shall be contacting Toby Litt today about my novel.
    (Sun 8th, Feb - 11.46 Barcelona, Spain time.)

  9. Only as Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary Gurus by Susan Shapiro

    Reason: This is a memoir about writing and 'life' and the relationship between the two. Tenuous really, I guess, but Boring John certainly discusses that relationship too.

  10. The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger

    Reason: Well Pat Walsh said this (in his 78 Reasons book about getting published) of Craig, "He wanted to write the first in a new branch of literature... His task entailed incorporating the tenets governing his influences while telling his story in a way no other story’s been told before..." Sounds interesting indeed, though the Amazon reviewers indicate a more 'normal' book than that, other than what was said here by someone who didn't like the it: "All style, no substance... nothing actually happens!" Hmmm.

    VERDICT: Well I guess nothing much does happen. I guess Craig tells a story in a way no other story's been told before (maybe). And it is an impressive first novel but it's not the sort of book I want (or am able) to write. Sorry, Johnny!

    So that means... NOT relevant to Boring John
    (Feb 8th, 2009)

  11. Broken by Karin Fossum (Harvill Seeker.)

    Reason: Taken from the synopsis at Amazon, "A woman wakes one night to find that a strange man has walked into her bedroom... The woman is an author and the man one of her prospective characters." And, then this from an Amazon review, "By letting the character talk to the author, and therefore the reader, off stage as it were, it in a way lets the reader into the process more than usual too".

    Fossum's book discusses a similar theme to Boring John, too, "how anxiety prevents one becoming fully human and good." I suspect she's done a better job than me (oops!) - well Broken has a story for one thing, lol - but I am still encouraged.

    Also, it's in the tradition of Auster(*) and Calvino(**) too, but I have absolutely no idea what that means lol. Still, I'm going to make this my #2 book.

    (*) Okay, okay I am going to read Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy: "City of Glass", "Ghosts" and "Locked Room" written ages ago. Who knew all this 'author appearing as character commenting on plot' stuff was so common! Lol
    (**) And, okay, I am going to read Italo C If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
    Satisfied? Lol.

  12. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

    If you're expecting me to describe this amazingly original and inventive book here, then you can forget it. It's definitely metafiction. It's definitely about writing and reading and being read (to a degree). And it's definitely about words - really well-written words. If this book is not a masterpiece then I don't know what is.

    VERDICT: This is SOoooooooo what Boring John is all about (and soooooooo much better written and inciteful and... - bloody Calvino is the greatest Italian writer in the 20th century, for goodness sake). Fantastic. Brilliant. And far, far, far too clever

    CAN'T contact IC about BJ though as he is RIP
    (Feb 8th, 2009)

  13. The Music of Chance by Paul Auster
    Read this. Didn't feel like experimental writing at all. Felt a bit like the journey experienced by Herman Hesse's Siddharta, though more as parable. Enjoyed it. But not sure why Auster wrote it. But maybe this is because I'm still learning about why writers write. To me, though, it felt right a really good example of creative writing - but it said nothing to me. Anyway...

    (Feb 8th, 2009)

  14. Book 14 follows soon (I hope)

(If I can find ten to twenty books then I'll be laughing.)

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