Writing Like Someone You Haven’t Yet Read

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Of course you don’t have to read an author’s work to have to deal with their influence. Major figures like Faulkner, Pynchon, Bolaño, and David Foster Wallace cast such a wide shadow that they’re a liability for every writer today. You can’t write except by writing against them, trying to get out from under, not least because even if you haven’t read them your potential readers have, so the risk of having failed to negotiate their influence is unavoidable.

In the Internet age, it is not unlikely to feel the influence of an author without even having read him or her. Over at Electric Literature, David Rice takes a look at the phenomenon of “shadow influences.”


Guia Cortassa was born, lives, and works in Milan, Italy. After working as a Contemporary Art curator, she went back to writing. She is a contributing editor for Ondarock and her writing has appeared on Rivista Studio, Flair and the Quietus. She compulsively tweets @gcmorvern. More from this author →