Wednesday, October 1, 2008

are Mary Sue characters inevitable?

I came across this review the other day by the woman (could be a man, I suppose, but I don't think so) who got #1 of the limited edition 450 copies of ANWAGTHAP. I wasn't sure what to make of it:

review of And Now We Are Going to Have a Party, by pretentiousgit

This book is actually five books put together to form chapters in the author's life. Reading it is like reading any of Griffith's stuff, but with the skin stripped off so that you can see the muscles of the story moving. One of the things coming rapidly clear in this project is the amount of autobiography out there, the number of Mary Sue characters in my collection, some good, some bad, most simply there to tell a story. Writing what you know is the cornerstone of the fiction in my collection, and that means the more I get to know the authors, the more I see of them in the works I am reading. This is as true for The Sandman as it is for The Passion, so I think it may be a Writer Thing...

So, after you've read the whole thing, what I want to know is: do you think writers write the same story over and over again in their fiction? Before you answer, let me make it clear, this is what, in our house, we call a real question. It's not one designed to elicit reassurance. I'm not fishing for compliments, either. I honestly want to know what you see when you read a favourite (any favourite) writer's work.

I think I do revisit some themes over and over, particularly the notion of identity. Ammonite, Slow River, the Aud sequence (series, trilogy, triptych, whatever): they're all about how we become who we are and what that means. And of course that's the overriding question of my life: who am I, and what does that mean?

I believe novelists do reveal themselves, to a degree, in their work. I don't believe our work is necessarily about us. But I'm curious about readers' thoughts on this.

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