I like when well known / regarded writers take a stab at writing about writing. Lorrie Moore's narrative second-person "How to Become a Writer" is an ought not to be missed kind of read, among stories like these. Handled deftly, they are a fascinating look at the creative process, the writing process in conversation and in workshop, even if / though it's not the "creative process" per se of the author of the fiction itself. And now, Etgar Keret has brought his own offering in the form of "Creative Writing," which appeared in a recent issue of The New Yorker.
Others I've enjoyed in this way are David Foster Wallace's character Rick Vigorous' storytellings in "The Broom of the System" and Will Self's disturbingly awesome "Nonce Prize" which concerns, among other things, creative writing in a prison setting -- and, actually I recall liking the stories within stories more than the primary narrative in novels like John Irving's "The World According to Garp." Even Albert Camus' "The Plague" plays with describing the writing process, when a character becomes enamored to the point of obsession with a sentence he's writing and constantly revising, to wit, "One fine morning in the month of May an elegant horsewoman might have been seen riding a handsome sorrel mare along the flowery avenues of the Bois de Boulogne."
Etgar Keret's "Creative Writing" left me feeling that, for all its many positives, the one thing I wished was also explored here? His characters' writing badly, or at least in a way that better suggested their novice status. Still, though, there's a lot here, and the stories within the story are conceptual oddities in themselves. At outset, the story concerns a couple who's recently experienced the loss of a child. I can't quite recall if this is expressly stated or implied. As recourse, as escape, as coping mechanism / impetus, the man suggests to the woman that she take up something like creative writing. She does and experiences success immediately, come in the form of praise from her instructor and peers. This leads to an odd form of envy in the man. He finds the woman talented, but also inscrutable. Her work is good but leaves something to be desired, he feels. He joins a beginner's creative writing course of his own. The narrative comes full circle. In a glib sort of way, I enjoy feeling the story's moral is: writing is hard, and endings are hardest of all.
The Elephant in the Room
1 hour ago