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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:15 am
I Write Like James Ellroy, Who Writes Like David Foster Wallace
Posted by: Keir Graff

So this I Write Like thing has gone viral. Using a simple tool, people can have their writing analyzed and learn whether they write like Margaret Atwood or Stephen King. And it was only a matter of time before writers played with it, too. The results are amusing: Margaret Atwood, it turns out, writes like Stephen King. (The Huffington Post points out that the programmer who made the thing speaks English as a second language, which may have some bearing.)

Naturally, I wanted to play with it, too. Who do my book reviews read like? Judging from my recent starred review of Thomas McGuane’s Driving on the Rim, I write like . . . Stephen King! (HuffPo also reports that there are only about 50 authors included in the IWL database, which may also have some bearing.)

Time to get a little more meta. I wrote my review of James Ellroy’s Destination: Morgue! (2004) in the style of Ellroy himself, so let’s see what the ruling is on that one. According to IWL, my impersonation of James Ellroy reads like . . . David Foster Wallace! Hmm, OK. So how about my review of Ellroy’s Blood’s a Rover, written in the style of Keir Graff?

Dan Brown?!

Oh, I give up. Clearly this software has no idea what it’s talking about.

One Response to “I Write Like James Ellroy, Who Writes Like David Foster Wallace”
  1. Dana Marie Hough Says:

    This is a great little toy!

    I input the text of my very first blog post, and the software returned that I write like Cory Doctorow.

    Then I tried the text of my second post and got… Chuck Palahniuk?

    Two more analyses returned David Foster Wallace and James Joyce…

    Okay guys… which is it already!?


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