I read the book by Charles Webb before I watched the film starring Dustin Hoffman. I think this is fair because the book was written before the film.
The film is a seminal film. The book is better than the film. I'm not saying the film is bad or inaccurate. It follows the book very closely. But there is something in the book that is not in the film. There's a deeper sense of frustration, of stagnation. It is a bleak book, indeed. Most of it is dialogue. It almost reads like a screenplay. The dialogue goes around in circles, repeating itself. The awkwardness of Benjamin is communicated almost entirely by the way in which he talks. The actual manner he adopts is generally not described. You know his manner simply from the way in which he repeats things, spins conversations into confusing repetitive webs. I love it.
I have also read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler recently. The style is so fresh and contemporary, despite how long this book has been around. The poetry of metaphor is like nothing else I have read before now. There is nothing at all pretentious about
I’m working hard on becoming a better writer. Charles Webb and Raymond Chandler are big influences on me. So much so that I get this aching in my gut. I want to be as good as these guys. I am not as good as these guys. Stress eats me. My eyes are tired. It feels like my whole life depends on becoming a good writer.
But then I inhale, close my eyes and get lost in the sounds. I wish I didn’t care. It doesn’t make any difference whether I am a good writer or a lousy writer. I wish I didn’t care.