Writers Writing About Writers: 9 Great Books About Authors

If that massive New Yorker profile didn’t get you curious about Edward St. Aubyn’s latest novel (which did have its faults), then perhaps the notable selling point is that it’s about writers — their writerly lives as well as their hangups — and told in a way that will hold readers’ attention even if they aren’t writers themselves. That isn’t easy, as writers have tried more than a few times to clue readers in to the circles they run in, the lives they lead, and the people they know. The results, unfortunately, don’t always appeal to anybody but the writers themselves. In the case of these nine books, however, writers’ attempt to depict other writers, intellectuals, and in many cases themselves, worked out better than most.

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Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow

The Nobel/Pulitzer winner’s 1976 roman à clef (and his best book, in my humble opinion) uses the poet Delmore Schwartz (as Von Humboldt Fleisher) and Bellow himself as characters, in an exploration of the different paths that writers take, and how those choices impact them and the people around them.