Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being Written by William Conescu

Without thinking, you walk toward the bar, toward her and the sound, and yes, the scratching grows louder.  It's centered on her, remains with her when the bartender steps away, hangs in the air around her as she silently contemplates her martini glass.  There's no question about it.  That's the scratching of the author's pencil.  She's being written.  (from Being Written, pages 1-2)

I'd been dying to read Being Written by William Conescu since reading a review by Heather from Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books, and I don't know why I let the book linger on my shelf for so long after she let me borrow it.  I'm glad I picked it up last month because it's a fast, engaging read.

Being Written is a clever novel about Daniel Fisher, a young professional living in Boston who hears the scratching of a pencil while sitting in a bar and realizes that an author is writing someone's story.  He knows it's not about him, he's only a minor player, but he really wants a piece of the limelight.  He realizes that a young woman at the bar is generating the scratching noise, that her story is the one being written.  His desire to be part of the book is so strong that he worms his way into the young woman's life.  First, he ends up in Delia's bed, then he becomes a regular fixture at her and her friends' hangouts.  Daniel is just a regular Joe (well, aside from the fact that he is the only one hearing the author's pencil), and he decides he needs to be more interesting so the author will notice him.  He lies and says he's a writer working on a novel, and he goes out of his way to make things happen.

Delia is a talented singer who studied music in college.  She and her musician boyfriend, Graham, left school before realizing their dreams.  Now Delia works a dead-end job for a nonprofit foundation and sings in her spare time at a rest home.  She is unhappy not only with her career, but also with her relationship with Graham -- whose inability to hold down a real job has prompted him to take up another line of work that leaves Delia feeling both disgusted and betrayed.  Conescu also tells the story through the eyes of Monty, Delia's childhood friend and a colleague of Daniel's, and Jon, their gay bartender friend.

Consescu devised a brilliant structure for Being Written.  All of the main characters have chapters to themselves, and these are written in the third person (as though they are part of the novel being written) -- except for Daniel's.  Daniel's story is told in the second person and in the present tense, putting readers in the here and now and making it possible that the author is responsible for his actions.  As Daniel's willingness to do whatever it takes to play a prominent role in the story grows, the tension builds, putting readers on the edge of their seats.  I wasn't expecting the story to take the turn it did, with some thriller aspects thrown in, but it all made sense and wasn't at all out of character.

Being Written is among the most unique books I've ever read, and Consecu does a wonderful job pacing the story.  Once I started reading it, it was hard to put down.  I highly recommend this book if you're looking for something different, something both humorous and sad, or even just a quick, suspenseful read.

Disclosure:  I borrowed Being Written from a friend.

19 comments:

Serena said...

I'm looking forward to reading this. I hope Heather doesn't mind that I borrowed it from you!

Janel said...

I've wanted to read this one for a while, but I'm going to have to track it down. Sounds like a really interesting plot.

Staci said...

Sounds like it has a lot going for it. I've never heard of this title but you've gotten my attention with your review.

Megan said...

This does sound really different - and excellent. I think it'll be heading for my wish list. Thanks for the great review!

Jeane said...

That's a very unique premise- I've never heard of one quite like it before.

bermudaonion said...

What a unique story line! It sounds like something that could turn out really bad or really good. Glad to see it's good.

Carrie said...

Woah! Sounds like a really haunting and engaging read! You made it sound positively fascinating. Thanks for your review!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I really like the sound of this. Never heard anything quite like it, but you did a great job of summing it up.

Heather J. said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one! And of course Serena can read it next. ;) It really is quite different than anything I'd read before, and like another commenter noted, it could have been really good or really bad; in my opinion, it was the former.

Lisa said...

It reminds me of the Will Farrell movie "Stranger Than Fiction" in which he was a character in a book. Interesting concept.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I'm with Lisa. "Stranger Than Fiction" immediately came to mind as soon as I read your review. This book sounds refreshing. I'll have to check it out.

Suko said...

Why is it that so often the books we don't pick up to read right away are the best?

Being Written sounds like my cup of tea. Thanks for your review!

(P.S. Enjoyed your disclaimer!)

carolsnotebook said...

This sounds like a really interesting, unusual book. Thanks for the review.

justicejenniferreads said...

Wow, this sounds like a really unusual and interesting read. I love reading different things and I hope I'll get a chance to pick this one up one day.

Anna said...

~Serena: Nope, she said she doesn't! I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

~Janel: It's complicated, but not too complicated, which I like. Hope you get your hands on a copy.

~Staci: It's very unique. Hope you check it out.

~Megan: You're welcome. I do hope you have a chance to read it.

~Jeane: Isn't it great when you find something new? Sometimes I think I'm reading the same story over again, except with different characters.

~bermudaonion: Very true! I'm glad I didn't have time to contemplate how it could've gone wrong. It sucked me in right away.

~Carrie: You're welcome. I hope you decide to give the book a try.

~Nicole: Thanks!

~Heather: Thanks again for letting me borrow it. And I've passed your message on to Serena. ;)

~Lisa: I thought of that while I was reading it. Thank goodness it was much different from the movie!

~A Bookshelf Monstrocity: The thriller aspect to the storyline makes it much different than the movie. Hope you check it out.

~Suko: I love finding hidden gems on my shelves!

~carolsnotebook: It certainly was unusual. Hope you give it a try.

~justicejenniferreads: Me, too. I'd love to hear what you think.

S. Krishna said...

I heard about this book awhile ago, but I forgot about it! Thanks for reminding me!

Anna said...

~S. Krishna: You're very welcome! Hope you get a chance to read it.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Very interesting take on metafiction! I like the unique structure, and it sounds like it's well-written, too (not gimmacky)

Anna said...

~Dawn: I thought it was well written. And I had no idea it was metafiction (don't even know what that means exactly) but I'll take your word for it. ;)