Friday, April 6, 2012

Literary Blog Hop: April 6-8

Welcome to the Literary Blog Hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase!

This monthly blog hop is open to blogs that primarily feature book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion.

How do I know if my blog qualifies as "literary"? Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as "literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. YA literature may fit into this category, but if your blog focuses primarily on non-literary YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-books that is open to book blogs of all kinds.

Instructions for entering the Literary Blog Hop:

1. Grab the code for the Button.

Literary Blog Hop

2. Answer the following prompt on your blog.
(Suggestions for future prompts? Email to them us at

Here's our question this week:
How do you feel about fictional characters who are obviously closely based on the author? Is this an example of authorial superego? Or just a natural extension of the "write what you know" advice?

Our answer comes from Christina:

For April Fool's Day I wrote a joke review of Tyra Banks' Modelland. Anything involving Tyra Banks is going to be very TYRA TYRA TYRA, and Modelland is no exception. The pathetic protagonist has the extremely high forehead that Ms. Banks continually bemoans on TV, and there is also a supermodel named Ci-L who seems to be a superhuman, supercelebrity version of Tyra herself. A couple of other more minor characters have less obvious Tyra qualities. Of course I don't even need to mention that it's a horrible book with extremely weak everything. But the tendency to write oneself into a novel is not limited to sloppy or novice authors.

More than two hundred years ago, in Emmeline, respected and popular author Charlotte Smith wrote herself into the novel as a sort of sad but noble victim figure. The introduction to my edition explained that Ms. Smith was looking for sympathy and understanding from her readers, so she gave one likeable character all the same real-life struggles she had. It sorta reminds me of reality TV- that urge to tell-all in order to get sympathy from strangers. Charlotte Smith wasn't embarrassed or secretive about her intentions with this character- she freely admitted that the character was a stand-in for herself; she wanted it to be public knowledge.

Last year, before reading The Marriage Plot, I heard a radio interview with Jeffrey Eugenides in which he explained that one of the characters, Mitchell, had had very similar experiences to himself. But Mr. Eugenides stated petty clearly that he doesn't consider Mitchell an autobiographical character. It seems to me that most literary authors nowadays are eager to distance themselves from their novels. The protagonist is NOT based on the author. The story is NOT autobiographical. Why do they dislike these insinuations so much? I don't think there's anything wrong with it when it's done well. I guess I like it in books that I like, and dislike it in books that I don't. I suppose that makes me a rather fickle reader/critic.

What do you think?

3. Add your link to the Linky List below.

Happy Hopping!