We Write Like Chuck Palahniuk, When We’re Not Writing Like H.P. Lovecraft

The website “I Write Like” purports to analyze any text you paste into it, comparing it to any of fifty authors in its database.

With a spam filter.

Okay, it’s slightly more complicated than that. Using the same technique that underlies many spam filters, Dmitry Chestnykh dumped books into his database. If what you submit matches the digital fingerprint of a given author, you win!

Thus: Our colloquial morning post reminded the database of Chuck Palahniuk, who happens to be about our age, graduated from our university with the same major, still lives (last we heard) in our home state, yet unlike us has managed to write a novel that produced one of the best movies in recent years. (Fincher, you know where to find us.)

But our Tuesday post on Shirley Sherrod caught the database in a more Lovecraftian mood. And here we thought we were channeling Calvin Trillin with a hangover.

I Write Like [via LRB]

A Q&A with the Creator of “I Write Like”: “The Algorithm is Not a Rocket Science” [The Awl]

48 comments:

1:12 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Interesting. The only thing of any length I have to throw at it is my thesis, which, given the constraints, is not really, well, what I write like.

1:16 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

I’m afraid I’m gonna get Dr. Seuss or some shit.

1:23 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

As long as I’m not compared to Anne Rice or that Twilight author, I’ll be happy.

1:32 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010
1:33 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Shooting for Anaïs Nin or Pablo Neruda…

ADD: Faulkner or DFW ::sigh:: that would be awesome!

2:02 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

I got Margaret Atwood and was so thrilled I refuse to take it again. The real question: Who does FCS write like?

@JNOV: When proofing an federal appeals court brief for an attorney I worked for, I told him “Unless your name is William Faulkner, you are not allowed to have a sentence that goes on for a page and a half. ”
The 10th Circuit judges have no idea the horrors I spared them.

2:07 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Mistress Cynica: Haha! That was a mitzvah!

2:09 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

LOVING this photo and the alt text.

2:09 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Mistress Cynica: Actually, I’m sure they do. That sort of mind-numbing shit is, unfortunately, quite common for our profession.

I keep getting David Foster Wallace. Is that the dude who offed himself last year? I think I’m offended.

2:13 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

I supplied this site with several samples of my own writing, and it came up with a different answer each time. An enterprising friend fed it writing by the actual authors and it guessed wrong. A delightful entertainment, and nothing more. (FWIW, I got Palahniuk, as well as a few others I don’t recall.)

2:18 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

TJ: This is too funny to not share.

Sharron Angle Hires Mime as Campaign Spokesman

Actually, the whole linked site is hilarious – I particularly enjoyed “Abraham Lincoln Writes Back To Mark Williams”. :)

2:22 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: I think Sept. ’08, but I’m not sure. DFW was amazing. So are you.

ADD: Yes, September 12, 2008.

ADDD: I’ve got Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, but I’m not ready to go down that rabbit hole just yet.

2:28 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@al2o3cr: I’m embarrassed to admit that I keep getting Sharron and Sherrod mixed up, to the point of which I’m ignoring stories about either one to save myself from total confusion. I chalking it up to undiagnosed dyslexia or something and moving on.

ADD: It’s sweet of the not-the-MSNBC ad to want me to “meet real guys,” but if one of the real guys in question is Joey Buttafuoco, per the center image, then no thank you.

2:35 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Mistress Cynica: Same here re Vonnegut.

2:37 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Tell me you ran FCS through that shit. You have to have.

2:41 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

I got Stephen King.
is that good?

2:42 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Capt Howdy:

So did I. Obviously, our style is folksy, colloquial, and filled with disembowelment.

2:45 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Stephen King apparently writes like J.K. Rowling.

2:55 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: Chainsaw’s latest has topnotes of Isaac Asimov.

3:00 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Mistress Cynica: I threw in two samples and it immediately responded Cory Doctorow. Both times.

3:15 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@FlyingChainSaw: Talibunny’s ghostwriter also cops Doctorow, although her Shakespearean Refudiate Tweet invokes James Joyce.

Can’t disagree with the latter.

4:15 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@flippin eck: My “real guy” is wearing a bandanna and a trucker hat.

4:18 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

HOLY SHIT! I GOT DAVID FOSTER WALLACE!

4:33 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

In other news, I had the coolest fucking 6th grade teacher EVER. I dare one of you to top that.

4:49 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: You really did. :-)

6:40 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Haaaaaaahahahah, oh my god. Okay, so, first of all, Mom wanted me to post something I’d said earlier:

Mom (6:17:17 PM): Im surprised you didn’t comment on the lovecraft thread about your love for him
Me (6:18:18 PM): I was going to say something funny, but then I realized that I’d misread something crucial that tied the joke together
Mom (6:18:31 PM): ahhhh
Me (6:19:23 PM): See, what I’d thought was that they plugged in the thread about Palin and it came out as Lovecraft. I was gonna be like, “That’s a more fitting comparison [to Palin] than Shakespeare, considering he also invented new words and he was a racist”

Second, I just plugged in this quote from Glenn Beck:

Blaming TV or radio hosts for the nutjob who killed three Pittsburgh police officers over the weekend is like blaming a flight attendant after a terrorist takes down a plane. In other words: Giving passengers a safety talk to prepare them for a worst-case scenario doesn’t mean you are responsible should a terrorist make that worst-case scenario happen. One person is providing important information. The other is a nutjob who would’ve acted no matter what.

Who did I get? Dan Brown. A+

6:50 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

Oh, someone asked what blogs we read, Benedick, was that you? This is one of my faves — Pharyngula. If there were a god (apologies, deist friends), it would be biologist PZ Meyers, but he’d explain why he doesn’t exist. The comments are AWESOME!

7:21 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: Have you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? If not — DON’T WIKI IT in case there are spoilers. We’ll get it through the Amazon kickback link. I think you’d really like it.

7:31 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: I have not. Get me this, too. Oh, and a copy of 1984.

7:44 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: Wait — you never read 1984? Animal Farm? Remember Babe? Babe is Animal Farm. I’ll get you all four…

7:49 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: Oh, wow — you have to share House of Leaves with me.

ADD: Also got you a Vonnegut novel that you’ll throw against the wall…

7:58 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: Which one?

8:00 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: Check to see if your library has the Recorded Book edition of 1984. I listened to it about a year ago and was totally freaked out!

8:05 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@mellbell: Oh, I don’t want to spoil the surprise — it’s not any that usually comes to mind. I’ll message you on the Book of Faces.

8:05 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@karen marie: I could totally see how that’s possible!

8:12 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: I wrote an essay on Animal Farm when I was at Delco. I’ve got a copy sitting on by bookshelf. Don’t ask why it’s not in it.

8:14 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@karen marie: Lol, what makes the audio version freakier?

8:15 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: Oh, well, hell — I got you both in one set with an intro by Hitch. I think he’s perpetually drunk.

8:16 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: @karen marie: It’s kind of a spoiler.

9:00 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: Oh, okay. No spoilers, please.

9:05 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: I also want you to watch this and tell me what you think about it, especially Dawkins. I totally have a nerd crush on him.

9:19 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: I saw the first one, I think. Didn’t see the rest, though.

9:21 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: That was one of my college roommate’s books that I read so I could help him through a freshman lit class. Loved it. I never got through the follow up, whatever it was called.

/rubs ambien sleep from his eyes, sees TOO MUCH STUFF TO PACK all around/

9:23 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOVjr: The first series? These are things from the cutting room floor. The first series was as exciting as watching paint peel, but these discussions are So. Much. Better. I like Colin McGinn, too.

9:25 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@Nabisco: It took me FOREVER to read it. I’d read some and then noodle what I’d read around for a day or two, read some more, etc.

ADD: Yeah, w/r/t the sequel. I’m kinda afraid it might suck. I liked the way the first one ended. Satisfaction.

9:35 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: Nah, the first interview. I forget who he was talking to.

9:58 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@jr: let’s fire up the Wii and watch it.

10:23 pm • Thursday • July 22, 2010

@JNOV: We’ve still got other stuff to watch.

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