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Who Great Writers Write Like

Usually, not themselves

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Philip Roth.(Wikipedia)

The Website I Write Like (via Galleycat) lets you paste in text and tells you which famous author your prose most resembles. But the thing is fickle—depending on which of my writing I plugged in, my style resembled that of James Joyce, Kurt Vonnegut (a favorite of the program, it seems), and J.D. Salinger. So what say we test the site, and see what it says about the writing of famous authors? I used first lines to make it easier.

Author: Saul Bellow.
Book: The Adventures of Augie March.
Text: “I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.”
He Writes Like: Kurt Vonnegut.

Author: Philip Roth.
Book: American Pastoral.
Text: “The Swede. During the war years, when I was still a grade school boy, this was a magical name in our Newark neighborhood, even to adults just a generation removed from the city’s old Prince Street ghetto and not yet so flawlessly Americanized as to be bowled over by the prowess of a high school athlete. The name was magical; so was the anomalous face.”
He Writes Like: Dan Brown.

Author: Allen Ginsberg.
Book: Kaddish.
Text: “Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up all night, talking, talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph.”
He Writes Like: Stephen King.

Author: Cynthia Ozick.
Book: Heir to the Glimmering World.
Text: “In 1935, when I was just eighteen, I entered the household of Rudolf Mitwisser, the scholar of Karaism.”
She Writes Like: Kurt Vonnegut.

After the jump: More authors, Jewish and not; plus, Vonnegut and Brown.

Author: Norman Mailer.
Book: The Armies of the Night.
Text: “From the outset, let us bring you news of your protagonist.”
He Writes Like: James Joyce.

Author: Franz Kafka.
Book: The Metamorphosis.
Text: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
He Writes Like: James Joyce.

Author: Joan Didion.
Book: The White Album.
Text: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live. The princess is caged in the consulate. The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea.”
She Writes Like: Bram Stoker.

Author: Thomas Pynchon.
Book: Gravity’s Rainbow.
Text: “A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”
He Writes Like: Ray Bradbury (which is really interesting actually).

And the controls …

Author: Kurt Vonnegut.
Book: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.
Text: “A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.”
He Writes Like: Edgar Allen Poe.

Author: Dan Brown.
Book: The Da Vinci Code.
Text: “Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.”
He Writes Like: Dan Brown.

Author: James Joyce.
Book: Ulysses.
Text: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
He Writes Like: James Joyce.

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Who Great Writers Write Like

Usually, not themselves

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