26 March, 2012

Referencing the self

I've come across a lot of self-referential fiction of late - lots of writers writing about writers. John Irving's Widow for One Year manages to feature, and sample, for novelists in the one book, and spends many of its several hundred pages ruminating on whether writers should be able to imagine their stories and characters or whether they routinely fictionalise their own experiences as a form of catharsis.

Now I'm reading Nick Earls' latest novel, The Fix. Anyone who's read Earls knows how much of himself lands in his novels: his universally male protagonists, with some form of legal or medical training, living in Brisbane and developing awkward crushes on witty, self-assured women. In The Fix, his main man Josh is in PR, making a freelance living writing a blog about such inanities as how they get the stripes into toothpaste. His crush on law-student-by-day/stripper-by-night Hayley has given him writers' block.

"Two hundred and seventy-three words, and the toothbrushes had gone. Was there five hundred words in stupid crushes? No, there were novels in that, for too many of us."

Career crisis Nick?

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