Confession time…

I have a number of books to review, a play to talk about, a haul to reveal, and plenty of Shiny New Books links to give… but I couldn’t resist doing as Susan D suggests and putting up a post about confusing authors.

Not as in I-find-Gertrude-Stein-confusing-to-read, but as in I-get-Gertrude-Stein-mixed-up-with-Gertrude-Jekyll (as it may be).

We had a nice cathartic, collective confession of confusion when it came to the many and various Penelopes, and I’d love to know who else has caused you angst in this way.  Almost invariably, I find, it all becomes clear once I’ve read one or both (or all) of the authors in question, but beforehand all is lost.  For instance, I used to be unable to disentangle George Orwell and H.G. Wells (that ‘well’ in both their names threw me) until I started reading them.

Well, I confessed some yesterday, but didn’t mention these, whom I used to get confused:

Anita Brookner / Anita Shreve

Naomi Mitchison / Naomi Jacob

Edith Wharton / Eudora Welty

Over to you… c’mon, don’t be shy. And remember, this is a safe space… so confess, don’t judge ;)

49 thoughts on “Confession time…

  • April 14, 2014 at 10:10 pm
    Permalink

    I kind of find this scandalous all the way around. Surely I must have done this with some authors but the examples you give leave me a bit breathless. Orwell and Wells? Wharton and Welty? I won't even mention the Anitas since I just remembered that I always confuse Alice Hoffman with Alice Munro–and have never read the latter. Also the Johns Cheever, Updike, and Irving might as well be one author as well. Although I do love Irving's Owen Meanie. But the real shocker (perhaps on par with some of yours) is that I always thought that Agatha Christie was a character not an author. I couldn't figure out how the Marples and Poirots fit in.

    Reply
    • April 14, 2014 at 10:12 pm
      Permalink

      Gosh, that seems MUCH worse to me! Thomas! So it's clearly horses for courses ;)

      I should add that, now I have read something by at least one of each of those pairs, I no longer get them confused… wait, no, the Naomis are still unread, and still a bit confused.

      Reply
  • April 14, 2014 at 11:12 pm
    Permalink

    I've had Patricia Highsmith and Patricia Wentworth confused for years. I could never remember who wrote about Tom Ripley. Now I have some Wentworths on my TBR stacks, so I should be able to keep them straight now. And every time I see a review of one of Elizabeth Taylor's books, I have to remind myself: not Mrs. Richard Burton.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:17 am
      Permalink

      I can see that these comments are going to alert me to loads that I also get mixed up! I definitely confuse the Patricias, and have read neither of 'em…

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 12:44 am
    Permalink

    Don't fret, Simon (it IS Simon, right?) – I don't remember my own children's names sometimes. :)

    Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 2:09 am
    Permalink

    Margaret Laurence/Margaret Atwood/Alice Munro – I always have to stop and think about who is who, though with Atwood's current high profile dabbling in all sorts of public policy discussions and so on she is standing out much more clearly. A very Canadian confusion, eh. ;-)

    Also V.S. Pritchett/V.S. Naipaul.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:19 am
      Permalink

      Nice use of 'eh' ;) I've read one by each of those Canadians, which has helped disentangle them for me. But I'm sure I confuse Carol Shields with someone…

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 3:22 am
    Permalink

    Well, confession is good for the soul…for me (besides the Penelopes) it's E.F. Benson, E.M. Delafield and D.E. Stevenson. All those initials! And, all of these I heard of for the first time here on SIAB. Now that I've read some of the PL books, I typically remember E.M. Delafield. Mrs. Ames has not had the same helpful effect for E.F. Benson yet (maybe because the Mapp books are still unread on the TBR shelf?). As long as I'm confessing, I'll go ahead and admit that with these three authors, I'm not sure of their genders either…I find initials to be extremely unhelpful!

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:20 am
      Permalink

      I've often been surprised when I discover the genders of initialed authors – E.B. White particularly; he is still a woman in my mind. But, Susan, you would adore Mapp and Lucia, I feel sure.

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 6:15 am
    Permalink

    As you know, Colin, I seldom confuse a name … rather, I just sit there, blinking, and gabbling something along the lines of 'It's by.. you know.. thingy … the one who wrote that series about … oh, that family who lived in the hills somewhere … America, Cumbria, Spain? It was done as a series on BBC .. or was it ITV? Oh flip, who is I'm thinking of? You know…'
    Oh dear.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 6:15 am
    Permalink

    I suffer the same problem with the Penelope's and kept commenting that I really wouldn't want to read another Penelope Lively when really I meant Penelope Fitzgerald and in fact had never read anything by Lively. I also get horribly confused between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe. I have to look it up every time which one wrote Half a Yellow Sun and which wrote Things Fall Apart

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:22 am
      Permalink

      Oh, yes, another two names I often confuse… this is bringing everything out of the woodwork for me!

      Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:22 am
      Permalink

      I did once write to someone to enthuse about Delafield, and they replied about Delderfield, and it was all very confusing…

      Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:22 am
      Permalink

      Two people in a row with the same affliction! I've never read any Delderfield…

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm
    Permalink

    Oh good. It's endemic among us bibliophiles

    Iris Bromige and Iris Murdoch (not that I've read either)
    Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf
    E.B. White and T.H. White

    (ha! I just did a quick check on T. H. White at Wikipedia, and right at the top of his entry is the warning: "Not to be confused with E. B. White." They're on to us.)

    Simon Stuck-in-a-Book and Simon Savidge Reads. Oh surely not.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:23 am
      Permalink

      Ha! Oh, Susan, you would be far from the first when it comes to Simon S and Simon T. I've been approached as him at more than one party… not sure if he's had the same.

      I love that, about the Wikipedia entry! I confuse T.H. White and T.E. Lawrence, for some reason.

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm
    Permalink

    Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis. I noticed that I tend not to be confused about the pairs other commenters have come up with, if only because I know only one of each pair. Or I don't know either of a pair.

    Reply
    • April 15, 2014 at 3:34 pm
      Permalink

      I've read Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis and I don't really confuse them but I do have to think twice when looking in the alphabet for either of them. Also, I love Sinclair Ross (see Simon's recent review) which just adds another layer of Sinclair confusion.

      Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am
      Permalink

      Yes! I definitely get them confused. And Sinclair Ross into the mix (indeed, until I read Thomas' comment just then, I was thinking I'd read a Sinclair Lewis.) Julian McLaren-Ross also gets added to the mix.

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    Permalink

    Always have to stop and think about Anthony Powell / Burgess. Plus the Penelopes & Delafield/ Delderfield

    Sally Tarbox

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am
      Permalink

      Oh, the Anthonys, yes! I am discovering so many blind spots in my author-telling-apart…

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm
    Permalink

    I confess to struggling with Norah Lofts and Nora Roberts at the moment – I think I might be persuaded to read the former but the latter is beyond the pale. I think. If I've got them the right way round…..

    And when I was young I found Hammond Innes and Helen McInnes (who my parents read) really problematic!

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:29 am
      Permalink

      I get Norah Lofts and Norah Hoult confused, I've realised, but Nora Roberts is notorious all to herself :)

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm
    Permalink

    to my shame: the 2 Simons.
    Otherwise it's Ford Madox Ford and John Middleton Murray, this last pair is my very worst, a real block, despite knowing their works…

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:30 am
      Permalink

      Oh, Carol ;) Don't worry, you're not the first.

      Did JMM write any fiction? I've only read his essays and non-fic.

      Reply
  • April 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm
    Permalink

    When I was in college we had an English professor named Austin Warren (I think), while at the same time the U.S. had a representative at the U.N. named Warren Austin (I think). To this day I'm not confident I know who was which.

    Reply
  • April 16, 2014 at 8:11 am
    Permalink

    The Penelope disease is so widespread that I hardly dare to claim it as my own. In addition to that, although I am a crime fiction addict, I tend to get the following (Peter James, Peter Robinson, James Patterson) hopelessly entangled, to the point where I borrowed a book by one from the library and been furious that it didn't feature the detective by somebody else. To add to the confusion, James Peters is also a writer, creator of The Rugrats – not to be confused with crime fiction…

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:31 am
      Permalink

      Ha! Yes, that would be an interesting conflict… I have to admit to having only heard of one of those crime authors – and the only person I'm likely to confuse him with is Robert Pattinson.

      Reply
  • April 16, 2014 at 9:23 am
    Permalink

    H. E. Bates and E. F. Benson; R. F. Delderfield and D. E. Stevenson (distinctness sometimes preserved by number of pages); R. F. Delderfield and Catherine Cookson (when picturing book covers)(number of pages no help); Aldous Huxley and George Orwell; Vita Sackville-West and Rebecca West ( with associated greying of the area between Harold Nicholson and H. G. Wells); Incline Our Hearts (by A. N. Wilson) and The Love Department (by William Trevor) – cleared up now that I’ve read The Love Department and can imagine that A. N. Wilson will be somehow different … ; John Banville and William Trevor (continues at times even now that I have read both); A. N. Wilson and Angus Wilson; Eudora Welty, Willa Cather and Edith Wharton (beginning to get a grip on varying geographical regions); Dorothy Dunnett, Sarah Dunant and Helen Dunmore; Mary Stewart and Mary Renault; Winifred Holtby and Stella Gibbons; The Brontes Went to Woolworths/Our Spoons Came from Woolworths/Rachel Ferguson/Barbara Comyns = heady confusion. Penelope(s) not an issue because I started with Penelope Lively very early, began Penelope Fitzgerald quite recently and have yet to read Mortimer.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:32 am
      Permalink

      Wow, this is an impressive catalogue of confusions! Pleased that I'm not the only one with those American ladies. And A.N. Wilson/Agnus Wilson is definitely on my list too.

      Reply
  • April 17, 2014 at 7:37 am
    Permalink

    I don't know if I should be embarrassed to admit this but the Brontes are one lump of lunacy for me. I know Anne is the least well known yet most sane one, and there's Emily… and Charlotte is it? I've read Vilette, Wuthering Heights and the one with Mr. Rochester, in part or in full and I think all three are bizarre hence no need to differentiate.

    However Edith Wharton, Eudora Welty and Willa Cather are all so different and distinguishable for me.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2014 at 10:33 am
      Permalink

      No shame here, Tracy! I definitely found that hard to disentangle until I'd read them, but I do find them to be incredibly different authors once I'd actually read them.

      Whereas, having read one book by Eudora Welty and one by Willa Cather, I still find them similar!

      Reply
  • April 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm
    Permalink

    At one time I confused Chuck Palahniuk and Orhan Pamuk, and Émile Zola with Zora Neale Hurston (was thinking why a Turkish professor wrote Fight Club, and thought Emile Zola was a woman, a disaster lol)

    Reply
  • April 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm
    Permalink

    LOL, this was such a funny entry!

    Okay, I'll bite. Henry Miller and Arthur Miller is the first pair that comes to mind. I always struggle when it comes to telling one author from the other. How would a mashup of their works sound? *Death of a Capricorn, anyone? *Tropic(al) Crucible? Hehe

    Reply
  • April 17, 2014 at 8:55 pm
    Permalink

    Raymond Chandler and Raymond Carver – what the hell, just have another drink.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: