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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Writer

Zoran Živković

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To purchase The Writer

Title: The Writer
Author: Zoran Živković
Genre: Novel
Written: 1998 (Eng. 2002)
Length: 36 pages
Original in: Serbian
Availability: in The Writer & The Ghostwriter - US
in The Writer & The Ghostwriter - UK
in The Writer & The Ghostwriter - Canada
in El libro/El escritor - España
  • Serbian title: Pisac
  • Translated by Alice Copple-Tošić
  • Also published in The Book/The Writer (2003); The Writer, The Book, The Reader (2009); and Novels (2009)

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Our Assessment:

B : tight, short writing-story

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 13/10/2003 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "The Writer is a dense, dreamlike stream-of-consciousness account narrated by an unnamed author, who struggles with his inability to complete a novel" - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Writer is introduced as: A very short novel, without chapters, about writing and darkness, and at under forty pages it certainly is short. (The current edition pairs it with The Ghostwriter, and previous ones have included The Book, and other titles.) But Živković sticks to the novel-claim; this isn't presented as a novella, much less merely a story -- suggesting more heft to it, at least content- if not page-wise.
       It is a story about writing, narrated by a writer struggling to finish the book he is working on -- one which he initially believed would come to form a novel, but is shaping up to be "(at best) a collection of loosely linked stories". The promised darkness is also literal: the writer explains his writing habits and environment, which includes pulling down the Venetian blind when he starts work in the morning -- a necessity on sunny days, given his large window and eastern exposure, but also a habit he keeps up even when it is cloudy out. Beyond this, darkness extends to his writing process itself -- and the blank screen of his computer: as he describes it:

     At the outset, I face a wall of darkness. I have no idea what I will write about, what will pop up on the screen.
       And a friend who occasionally drops by diagnoses his writing frustration as the perceived and real darkness reflecting the writer's subconscious -- and offers to play psychiatrist, subjecting him to a question-and-answer form of analysis.
       Said friend also has a flash of literary inspiration and decides to write a novel as well, the narrator helping him along with technical assistance (such as introducing him to the basics of using a computer). The friend does not appreciate the layers of interference -- editors, proof-readers, etc. -- that are unavoidable in traditional publishing, and eagerly embraces the possibilities of electronic self-publishing. And he leans on his friend in additional ways, even presenting the narrator as a character in his novel .....
       There's more analysis too, debate about the nature of writing, and an elaborate dream, the writer sinking into the arguably inspiring mix of memory and fantasy. And there are the routines of writing -- the novel suggesting in its back-to-the-beginning end that these too are elemental and essential.
       It makes for a fine and amusing little meditation on writing and creativity -- and routines, habits, and interruptions. The not-so-helpful friend makes for a humorous counterpart and foil, though both their writings and disagreements could be more fully fleshed out.
       An enjoyable little work -- but it certainly helps being paired with others (as in The Writer, The Book, The Reader-trio, or The Writer & The Ghostwriter-duo).

- M.A.Orthofer, 1 December 2017

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The Writer: Reviews: Zoran Živković: Other books by Zoran Zivkovic under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Zoran Živković was born in Belgrade in 1948.

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© 2017-2022 the complete review

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