Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sounds like...

Lightbulb moment: Conceiving the idea of a website that analyses people's writing and matches their writing style to that of a well-known author.

Genius: Writing the code to execute said idea.

Irony: Margaret Atwood trying the site and discovering she doesn't write like herself. ("Oops," said the guys behind the code. "We'll make sure to train the database with more of her works.")
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I apparently write like David Foster Wallace, whom I'd never heard of. A Guardian article describes his writing thus: "He wrote long books, complete with reflective and often hilariously self-conscious footnotes, and he wrote long sentences, with the playfulness of a master punctuater and the inventiveness of a genius grammarian."

Well, that doesn't sound so bad, does it? I think that writing analysis website is simply trying to tell me that I'm wordy. The New Yorker comments that Wallace "conjured the world in two-hundred-word sentences... his prose slid forward with a controlled lack of control that mimed thought itself." Michiko Kakutani, writing for The Guardian, was less kind, describing Wallace's novel Infinite Jest as "a self-indulgent book badly in need of editing... clocking in at an unnecessarily long 1096 pages", although she did add that it was "some wonderfully powerful writing". Ouch.

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