As always, thanks to The Broke and the Bookish.
Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who… are Actually the Author
I’ve read a lot of books recently where the author takes a jaunt into the narrative and decides to become a character. It’s worked for me to varying degrees, though I must admit it’s not always my favourite trope. Still, here are some books where the author takes to the page. Also, an admission – I struggled to get to ten of these, and I enlisted the help of my boyfriend. Somehow the venn diagram of our tastes and moderately poor memories managed to form this list:
- East of Eden – Steinbeck inserts himself into the whole novel in the role of narrator, though this is not initially clear. His actual page time is very limited – but as the story progresses it becomes clear that his role is pivotal in recording the tale of his ancestors and their neighbours.
- The New York Trilogy – well, really only City of Glass, though he’s mentioned in the other two books. If you like somewhat post-modern weirdness, in the vein of Borges or Calvino (though not as good as either IMO) with a noirish twist, then Auster is your man. The way the role of the author and the protagonist is played with in this first novella is particularly interesting.
- Breakfast of Champions – I feel like only Kurt Vonnegut Jr could have an author avatar character in Kilgore Trout and still go on to have his “real” self appear in the book. In order to apologise to Kilgore Trout. I loved everything about this book, strangeness and all.
- A Tale for the Time Being – let it be known that I didn’t even manage to work out that the character Ruth was the author until after the second of her sections of this book. Sometime I am not so smart. I feel like, if anything, Ruth Ozeki inserts a little too much of her own life into this book, but it’s an interesting examination of the role of the reader, the role of the writer, and the role of character, and how these three things can interact.
- The Dark Tower – it’s Stephen King, there’s a van, none of his characters like him… what more can one say?
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – or Hunter S. Thompson Makes Really Good Life Decisions.
- The Divine Comedy – somewhat obviously.
- Eric – but he was having some trouble with the animals.
- Labyrinths – several of the stories in here have a Borges author character. I like Borges a lot, but please don’t ask me what the hell was going on, because I’m damned if I know.
- The Princess Bride – of course, Morgenstern himself wouldn’t stoop to insert himself as a character into his book, but the person responsible for bringing his work to light took, I hear, some liberties about inserting a not-altogether-accurate version of himself into the narrative… tsk, tsk!
Can you think of any other explicit author inserts?