Hey, I Think I’ll Write A Book

So, here’s a matter for consideration: fame as a(n) il/legitimate path to literary success. (1) For research (believe it or not), I’ve started reading Bob Dylan’s autobiographical Chronicles: Volume 1. I think we can all agree that the man was and is a brilliant lyricist and performer, and that he’s done some pretty cool stuff with and within the tradition of folk music. But, based solely on the bit of the book I’ve gotten through so far, I’m not sure his literary work would have ever made it to the published light of day had he not already been super-famous and a seminal part of a time and movement. The judgment may, of course, be premature, but at this point, I’m not sure what to do with the man’s non-musical writing style. In a way, I imagine it’s what would happen if Hemingway were talking– not writing— at you: a sort of close-lipped and maybe grudging delivery of narrative that would make you uncertain that the guy really wanted to be speaking, or in your general vicinity at all.

Well: maybe it was something someone gave him the chance to do– and it’s not his first book, after all. It’s one of the few– maybe the only– times I’ve read a work by someone who reached stardom in a non-literary field before venturing into extended prose. Morrissey did try his hand at novel-writing before he turned into Mozza– and didn’t he put out a book on the New York Dolls?– so maybe he doesn’t count. Either way, I’m still yearning to read his description/justification of his own life. I’m not including Andy Warhol’s ridiculously lengthy and self-involved diary in this category, since he largely just dictated his thoughts every morning over the phone, which in my book, doesn’t qualify as any sort of planned narrative. And oddly enough, I’m at least somewhat interested in checking out the written stylings of Molly Ringwald, who’s coming to mind as a example of the sort of second-career author I’ve got in mind, and who, based on an interview I accidentally caught with her, seems to be a uniquely intellectual former child star.

I’m sure I’ll kick myself later for having forgotten entire obvious lists of people I should have included here; thoughts and suggestions are, as always, welcome.


(1) How was that for postmodern phrasing?!?!




  1. birds fly

    Morrissey said something about working on a novel in an interview following the publication of his autobiography.

    I know Ethan Hawke has published a couple of novels that were not completely eviscerated by critics and readers. And you’ve probably heard of James Franco’s literary exploits. I think he even went and got an MFA or at least took classes toward one. As genuine as he tries to be about his writing efforts, though, it feels difficult to take him seriously.


    • Special K

      Good to see you in the neighborhood!

      That’s right: I thought I’d heard something about Ethan Hawke writing, which didn’t surprise me. (Did you see the odd French film he was in with Kristin Scott-Thomas– Woman in the Fifth– where he played a writer? It was somehow too perfect for the aura he’s always seemed intent on presenting.)

      In my post, I also failed to take into consideration essays and such by directors (I’m thinking in particular of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky), but I have a feeling they’re not really in the same class, since they were, in fact, involved in the writing process in one way or another from the beginning.


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