Saturday, February 13, 2010

Being Written by William Conescu

Being Written by William Conescu
2008, 196 pages

One day, walking home late at night from a party, Daniel Fischer is robbed, and as the event takes place he hears the scratching of a pencil. Daniel believes that the scratching indicates that he is living in an author's world, and that his robbery is being written into a book. However, Daniel only plays a passing role in that book, so when, years later, he again hears the scratching in a bar where he meets an aspiring musician named Delia, he is determined this time to play a more important role. By insinuating himself into Delia's circle of friends, Daniel won't allow the author to ignore him this time around.
It was only after you got home that it occured to you that you didn't have to stay in the background the whole time the author's pencil was scratching. You could have walked up to their table and offered some advice. Not that people really do that kind of thing, but you could have. Or you could have followed one of them into the lobby and said something outside the bathrooms. You could have sent a message through the waiter, or passed by the table and tripped over the woman's handbag. If you'd made a real effort, you could have been important to them. And their book.  (p 58)
 I heard about this book from Anna's review at Diary of an Eccentric (back in the dark days when I was an avid lurker...), and the minute I heard the premise of the book, I knew I had to read it. I loved the idea of a self-aware character trying to force himself into a more important role as the author is writing a book.

I enjoyed the premise of this book, and found most of the characters to be engaging. I'm a little ambivalent towards the actual plot:  on the one hand it was interesting to see Daniel use his desire to be an important part of the book to justify more and more extreme actions as the book progressed, but at the same time I found myself groaning as certain plot twists took place.

I thought that Daniel's view of the world he lived in - part of the author's imagination - and the way he considers potential ways to impact the plot was interesting as a manifestation of the decisions an author might make while writing a book, but embodied in one of his characters; however, after a while (and as the plot twists became more extreme), it grew a little tiring.

I really liked the ending of the book - I liked that it was ambiguous and thought it fit the idea of the book well. Overall, I'd say this book is enjoyable but not great. I liked the idea behind it but am not sure if it necessarily translated well to the book as a whole. Here is a final quote (with some parts taken out to avoid spoilers):
[...You] are just a character. Just doing what the author has you do. [...] Because this has become your book. You are the protagonist, not some yes-man, not some two-dimensional supporting character. [...] It's becoming the kind of book people can't put down, the kind they sell at the airport. (p132)


  1. It does sound like a great premise. So many times you hear authors saying that a particular character in a book really took over; this seems to be that idea played out.

  2. This makes me think about the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Not the same, but I was just reminded of it. Have you seen it?

  3. Stopping by from The Saturday Network to say hi! I am now a follower.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this one for the most part. I did groan a few times, too; Daniel really was getting a bit ridiculous at times, but that gave the story of bit of dark humor.

    Thanks for linking to my review. Glad you're a lurker no longer! ;)

    Diary of an Eccentric