Fiction *starring* fiction

John Irving’s The World According to Garp revolves around Jenny Fields’s autobiography “Sexual Suspect.”

Sophie’s World

the characters discover they are characters in a book and try to escape

Nabokov’s Pale Fire is a story told in the annotations to a poem.

State and Main follows the filming of a movie called The Old Mill.

Lot of background: Under the pseudonym “Richard Stark,” Donald Westlake wrote a series of books about a criminal named Parker who pulls various heists and cons. Under his own name, Westlake wrote a comic series of books about a down-and-out crook named Dortmunder, whose capers always get screwed up in very funny ways.

So… in Jimmy the Kid, a real book by Westlake, Dortmunder and his gang find a book called Child Heist by Richard Stark, about how Parker commits a successful kidnapping. Dortmunder’s gang uses that book as the blue-print for their own plan. The book Child Heist exist outside Jimmy the Kid, but they read paragraphs from it. It’s wonderfully funny.

In the first season of Heroes, one of the main characters publishes a comic book that tells the future of the rest of the characters.

27 posts to mention Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout?

Tristam Shandy is a movie about filming a (ficticious) film adaptation of the titular novel.
For Your Consideration is a mockumentary about the filming of a movie “Home for Purim”.
Waiting for Guffman, similarly, is about a fictional play whose title I forget.

Much of the show Extras revolved around the shooting of a ficticious TV show “When the Whistle Blows”.

Shadow of the Vampire is a fictional account of the filming of the real movie Nosferatu.

Noises Off is either a movie about the production of a play or a play about the production of a play, depending on which one you see.

The Purple Rose of Cairo - character steps out of ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ which is playing in a cinema, eventually meets with the actor who played said character. Much hilarity and Woody Allen-ness ensues.

(This post is much later than it should be and there are lots of replies since I read the thread and started composing this. I’ll read them all when I get a minute, and post again.)

I think TriPolar is closest to what I’m looking for. In Galaxy Quest, the long-gone inner show sets up the whole situation and keeps on motivating the action. (The Singing Detective works much the same way - the author wrote his book long ago, and it comes back to haunt him.) The Funniest Joke skit is also entirely motivated by the inner work. ChronosMan of La Mancha sounds good too, and elfkin477’s Pale Fire is at least close, though I haven’t read it.

Most of the others don’t seem quite right to me. They’re mostly too general: “I’ll write a book/make a movie/be a reporter/whatever!” The character is in charge of the plot, and the particular inner work is secondary. What I’d like to see is works in which the inner work drives the plot, and the characters are driven by that.

Thanks for all the replies. Keep them coming!

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen shares the style of the The Princess Bride but it’s the title character telling the tale to a theater full of people, not grandfather to grandson.

At Swim-Two-Birds is one of the earlier examples. The main character is a writer, whose characters come to life when he falls asleep at night and completely fuck up his world. Things get messy when one of the characters starts writing a story of his own, those characters start interacting, etc. It makes Primer seem like a Michael Bay movie.

I wanted to mention this, but it was getting late. It gets complicated at several levels because Kilgore Trout is supposed to be the actual author Theodore Sturgeon, and* Venus On the Half Shell *was eventually actualized by Philip Jose Farmer.

I almost hate to do this, but would a comic strip count? If so, I vaguely remember a movie that I saw on TV an unspecified number of decades ago. There was a debonair single writer/artist of a newspaper comic strip who, together with his butler (?) (who might have been David Niven) acted out the scenes of a spy story before drawing up the strips.

He gets drunk one night and wakes up married to a blonde Italian woman who speaks no English. He adjusts. But since he can only draw things he’s acted out, his character also marries and the plot starts focusing more on the spy adjusting to being a regular married guy than on the espionage. His ratings drop.

To save his ratings, he has to get his character out of its marriage. So he draws up several strips in which the character kills its wife and puts her in “the gloppita-gloppita machine”, a huge cemet mixer working at a nearby construction site. The wife sees the drawings and thinks that he no longer wants to be married to her. She takes off in tears, telling no one.

Now the writer is suspected of killing his wife IRL. Or he’s afraid that he will be. Hijinx ensure. Eventually, all is well. I was young enough when I saw it that I don’t remember if the two lives (writer and character) diverge, or if the wife becomes another character and gets to play spy, too. All I remember is that when she comes back, she brings her mother, who is also a blonde Italian, and who has eyes for the David Niven character.

I’m suprised no one has mentioned the movie Stranger than Fiction, which involves a writer and her fictional creation colliding (and what consequences that has). I think it’s a great movie, one of my all-time favorites.

Jack Lemmon, Terry-Thomas, and Verna Lisi in How To Murder Your Wife

Westlake once said that the first Dortmunder novel actually began as a Parker novel, but a Parker novel in which Parker’s heist goes very badly awry. If you’re a fan of the Parker novels, you know that Parker’s heists almost always go awry, but usually in a deadly and serious way. In this particular novel, Westlake said, Parker’s heist went so badly wrong that it became comical, and he knew it would be a bad idea to allow any levity at all into a Parker novel. So he changed Parker’s name to Dortmunder in that novel, ratcheted up the comedy, published it as Westlake rather than Stark, and the Dortmunder series was born.

I’m a huge fan of the Stark (and stark) Parker novels, but not overly fond of Dortmunder. Still, I’ve never read *Jimmy the Kid *-- I’ll have to give it a shot. My favourite non-Dortmunder Westlake novel is The Ax.

What a prolific writer – sometimes six novels in a year.

Anyway, enough of this hijack.

Stranger than Fiction is about a book as it’s being written.

The Book of Three? That surprised me, but since I can barely remember any of the Prydain Cycle, I totally can’t say.

How to Murder Your Wife, which I loved as a child. It’s pretty bizarre.

How to Murder Your Wife, starring Jack Lemmon, Verna Lisi, and Terry-Thomas (not David Niven). Great flick.

I’d contribute The Lord of the Rings, supposedly a scholarly translation of Bilbo’s diaries, supplemented by Frodo and others.