As part of the release of The Missing Books this week, you can now read an excerpt of it at Literary Hub.
From the chatter I’ve been seeing this week on Twitter, people are digging this project. I think it’s pretty cool, and I hope you’ll check it out. If you’re thinking of getting in on this, the Lit Hub excerpt might help you make up your mind.
And if you’re a longtime reader who values the info at CR & are looking for a cool way to support the site, this is a win-win for both of us. So do have a look. Excerpt at this link, description and ordering info below.
The Missing Books is a curated directory of books that do not exist, but should.
Featuring missing books from: Cormac McCarthy, the Oulipo, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, JM Coetzee, Roberto Bolaño, Vladimir Nabokov, Mario Bellatín, Jose Saramago, Philip K. Dick, Christian Bök, Kenneth Goldsmith, Gerald Murnane, Jorge Luis Borges, László Krasznahorkai, Edouard Levé. Nearly 100 titles in all.
In its pages you will find: an infinite book; a book nobody can read; an unwritten book worth $5 million; a book written on skin; a universal dictionary; a book of 25,000 pages; a missing book that will be found in 100 years.
The Missing Books is a living document. It will be updated and re-released as new missing books are discovered, and as a circumstance render missing books found.
Anyone who purchases a copy of The Missing Books also receives the right to receive for free all future versions of it that I release.
available as a downloadable ePub file and PDF file
FROM THE BOOKS THAT ARE YET TO BE
Winter Journeys by various members of the Oulipo
An ongoing hypernovel written over three decades by the Oulipo, a collective of experimental writers (mostly French) who utilize writing constraints. The concept of this hypernovel was originated by Perec’s account, “The Winter Journey” (see The Books That Never Were). After the great success of that piece, other members of the Oulipo wrote their own sequels to Perec’s “Winter Journey,” and the idea caught on among the group. Subsequent “Winter Journey” installments have become a rite of passage among new Oulipo members. In 2013 an English-language edition of the original “Winter Journey” plus 20 sequels was published by Atlas Books, a volume of some 350 pages. One would imagine that it is a virtual certainty that, much like the Oulipo itself, the complete chronology of the “Winter Journey” is far from over.
Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatín
A theoretical project by Mario Bellatín, an experimental Peruvian author currently headquartered in Mexico City. He has already made some progress on “Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatín” (The Hundred Thousand Books of Bellatín), through which he aims to write and publish 1,000 copies each of some 100 literary works. A supposed list of the plots for these 100 books was published with the journal Dossier, among them: “17- Explicar la importancia del perro sin pata trasera en la existencia de Mario Bellatín” (17- To explain the importance of a dog without a hind leg to the existence of Mario Bellatín); “38- Un libro sólo sobre el tiempo anterior a que la enfermedad se presentará” (38- A book about the time before disease existed); “57- La particular sensación de inmortalidad que debió soportar hasta el día de su muerte” (57- A particular feeling of immortality that one must sustain until the day of your death).
FROM THE BOOKS THAT COME FROM BOOKS
The Winter Journey by Hugo Vernier
A strange book that plays a central role in an account of madness; said account was written by Georges Perec, who chose to title it “The Winter Journey.” Perec’s account goes as follows: one night a man discovers an obscure book titled The Winter Journey that seems to be the source text for all the major developments of French literature to-date (1939). All the great poets of the 19th and early 20th centuries have plagiarized this work, which the man is convinced was published before all of them. But his copy of the book is lost in the Second World War. The man then spends the rest of his life failing to find another copy and dies in a madhouse. It is unknown if Perec ever possessed a copy of The Winter Journey, and if so why he chose not to share it with the world in any way other than in this brief piece. Of course, if he did have a copy, it would help explain why he so avidly plagiarized his fellow authors; knowing that they, too, had already plagiarized, what difference would it make if he then took what they had already taken? To date no other copies of The Winter Journey have surfaced, although the Oulipo seems to be at work on their own version (see Winter Journeys).
FROM THE BOOKS THAT WERE LOST
The Owl in Daylight by Philip K. Dick
Unfinished final project by Philip K. Dick. According to some reports, Dick claimed Daylight as his Finnegans Wake; other (perhaps corresponding) reports say that this book would have combined ideas of Beethoven as humanity’s most incandescent genius with visions of heaven as a bath of lights. Others have argued that the correct source for this book was Dante’s Divine Comedy, or that the story was to have involved ideas of a quantum leap in human evolution that would bring about new concepts of reality. Plot summaries abound, generally involving higher life-forms and/or godlike beings, and the little that can be said about Owl has been gleaned from hearsay and some letters Dick wrote. To add to the confusion, at one point the author’s former wife published a version of the book that she claimed reflected her understanding of the project, but it has since been removed from circulation. Supposedly, the title is a reference to our inability to understand, our blindness.
Richard and Samuel by Kafka/Brod
Incomplete joint novel to have been co-authored by Franz Kafka and Max Brod. Brod was one of the most successful German authors of his day, Kafka one of the least. Fortunately for posterity, the former used his success and influence to win the latter publication with leading venues of the day, contributing to Kafka’s production as an author. The two were good friends and attempted to co-author a novel that would have been called Richard and Samuel. One imagines it a sort of Germanic Bouvard and Pécuchet, wherein two friends reflect on the absurdity of the world as they travel the land via train. Unfortunately, while Brod had no difficulties elaborating on the conceit the two had agreed upon, Kafka grew more and more despairing, and the project, like so many of Kafka’s, remained incomplete.