All writers repeat themselves. And when we read a favourite author, repetition is in a sense exactly what we want. Kafka wouldn't be Kafka without the terrifying entrapment and metaphysical despair; Irvine Welsh wouldn't be Irvine Welsh without the junkies. As for plot, we keep being told that only four exist anyway (or seven or 36 or one million, depending what you read). Some writers try to focus on a completely different subject every time. ... You never quite know what you're going to get when you pick up the new TC Boyle or Toby Litt or Ian McEwan. Explorers or stoners? Outer space or gothic horror? Brain surgery or global warming? But these authors still leave their signatures, stylistically, thematically, ethically. You could say that one sign of a good writer is that he or she is distinctive (and repetitious) enough to be mimicked. Others, of course, prefer to stick to similar themes or genres: eighteenth-century prostitutes, medieval elves, irate London cabbies. Whatever.But, asks Toby Lichtig in The Guardian, what about authors who seem to recycle their material. he seems particularly irked by John Irving (agree and gave up reading him some after the huge disappointment of A Widow for a Year), and with some justification, I think, Haruki Murakami and Paul Auster :
... when a modern writer goes in for casual recycling I think we're right to feel cheated.Have you had the feeling that you were reading recycled material recently?