You too can write like a Booker Prize winner or a pulp fiction bazillionaire; plus Chelsea Clinton's wedding

Apparently I write like David Foster Wallace. I know, it came as a surprise to me too.

Like so many pieces of random junk that enter my life for a brief moment never to be considered again, this happy news arrived via the internet. I was wasting time, warming up to a writing project, mucking around on facebook. It turns out one of my facebook friends, too, writes with the crazy intensity of the late, great Mr Wallace. We are indeed blessed people.

Maybe you're an undiscovered Hemingway or Tolstoy? Head over to I Write Like, a "statistical analysis tool" and enter a few paragraphs of text from your journal or blog or whatever. The site claims to compare word choice and some elements of style to various writers, and then deliver your author-clone. I was intrigued until I saw that the analysis was impossibly speedy and that depending on which paragraphs I entered from a magazine profile I had written, I was also chillingly compared to Dan Brown or to Cory Doctorow, a Canadian journalist with a website called Craphound.

When an Associated Press journalist played with the site, he found that the script from Mel Gibson's irate phone calls to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva were in the style of Margaret Atwood, and Ms Atwood's own work was compared to Stephen King, which no doubt thrilled the Booker Prize winner.

So there's that time waster dispatched.

I find myself helplessly drawn to these gimmicky sites, especially in the depths of the winter that will not end. The top three viral sites at the moment, according to some website I can't recall, are the brilliant Awkward Family Photos, Cake Wrecks and Regretsy, where DIY meets WTF. All of these sites have spawned books, which makes you wonder, how hard can it be to get a book deal these days, especially if any old Joe Schmo can write like David Foster Wallace or Margaret Atwood? This must be the literary golden age.


Didn't Bill Clinton look gaunt at daughter Chelsea's wedding? Not like Bubba from Arkansas at all. I always felt sorry for Chelsea, who was a heartbreakingly gawky kid when her family moved into the White House, nothing like those self-posessed Obama kids. People were mean about her big teeth and frizzy hair, then her dad got caught with the intern, then he was impeached. Yes, she was living in an incredibly priviledged position--hence the appearance of Madeleine Albright and, um, Ted Danson at her wedding--but she was a kid and it must have been brutal. So, I must say, I am pleased to see that she hasn't turned into a train wreck like those boozy Bush twins, but has got her head on straight. Quite a feat.

Comments (5)

by Graeme Edgeler on August 02, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

People were mean about her big teeth and frizzy hair ... she was a kid and it must have been brutal. So, I must say, I am pleased to see that she hasn't turned into a train wreck like those boozy Bush twins, but has got her head on straight. Quite a feat.

I'm confused. Are politicians' families in or out?

by Eleanor Black on August 02, 2010
Eleanor Black

It's not a hot or not list, Graeme. But I am pleased for Chelsea Clinton, who appears to have managed to hang on to some normality, despite being part of a political family.

by Andrew Geddis on August 03, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Ummm ... exactly what makes George Bush Jnr's kids "train wrecks"? So they were arrested for possessing/trying to buy alcohol while underage (i.e. being 20, not 21). My God - who knew 20 year old college kids seek out and drink alcohol - I'm shocked! Shocked!!

I also note that Jenna managed to get herself married without the ridiculous hoopla that surrounded Chelsea's nuptuals and has done work with UNICEF (, while Barbara works with AIDS sufferers in Africa (

Oh that my daughter follows such a path!

by Graeme Edgeler on August 03, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

It's not a hot or not list, Graeme.

I didn't mean it like that. But we've had the discussion before, so there's probably no need to have it again.

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