Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

An Unexpected Masterpiece

As National Novel Writing Month continues on, the next in our series about the novels that we started writing but, for whatever reason, never finished.

The novel I never wrote is spotless. Every sentence is a sickening surprise. The plot coils round you like a python. Your eyes water badly at the humanist climax. You do not trust this response.

It is three hundred and twenty-nine pages long. It is at least fifty-four percent true and took six days to write. Seventeen people conspired against it, and each died under odd circumstances.

The text is political but not polemic, learned but not dense. It is charged with alarming ambiguity and wrought with alarming clarity. Portions all but beg to be carefully read aloud, alone or as foreplay.

There are descriptive passages with the power to kill a small horse. The dialogue’s electricity could power Switzerland for weeks. Supporting characters were bought and licensed by Viacom Inc.

An excerpt appeared in The Paris Review. An amusing controversy attended publication, bloomed into industry scandal, and finally engulfed the literate globe in archly hot opinions.

The following adjectives were applied by reviewers, pro and amateur: disastrous, dialectic, decadent, startling, cruel, stark, indecent, far-fetched, morbid, timely, timeless, hollow, trashy, suicidal, correct.

The hardcover is embossed, its paper deckle-edged. The softcover is improbably small—fits in a jacket pocket. My wife picked the title, my mistress the font. Neither speaks to me now.

The sex is an unspeakably genuine sequence of aperçus, flowing from a properly curious psyche. Regardless, it is not widely selected for book clubs. The dedication contains a mysterious set of initials.

Translations are available in German, Japanese and Spanish. In France, it’s been adapted into rhyming verse. A Brazilian choreographer has staged the ballet for an empty house.

While included on several shortlists, no jury agreed to saddle it with something so tawdry as an award. The Nobel Prize Committee remarked that its towering achievement would dwarf the highest praise.

At least one heavily echoed bon mot caught on as slang in the wider world, where it is often malapropised. Another writer rankled at what he took to be (and what surely was) an attack on his silver reputation.

Royalties are distributed throughout Hollywood to permanently obstruct a film. The audiobook is said to alleviate arthritis pain. Libraries find that they cannot hold on to their copies.

A pulverized edition was found at the site of a recent asteroid impact. Birds wouldn’t use the shreds for their nests. The opening is temptation itself. The ending is a bit of a shock.

The idea arrived from what seemed a second mind, cold and all but insensate. Given that this numinous phantom has nearly approximated life, the rest of us lack any excuse.

Previously in series: My Unrealizable Postmodern Novel

Miles Klee is the author of Ivyland.

18 Comments / Post A Comment

Art Yucko (#1,321)

One of the Jonathans (can't recall which) mentioned you in SLK Punk Magazine a couple of times.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I don't think we're ready for nostalgia about Motherless Brooklyn though, since it didn't come out until 2002.

osmium (#7,705)

@Art Yucko The Strokes really meant a lot to me in my life right now when I was 40

Art Yucko (#1,321)

@osmium De Stijl really ran astray from their fascinating debut though.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

@Art Yucko
Do you mean the band, or the café in Oslo, or De Stijl?

krucoff (#560)

I'm on page 22 of Cosmopolis and for whatever reason I'll probably never finish it.

Jay Casey@facebook (#239,149)

@krucoff *animated gif of Robert Pattinson shooting his hand*

Jay Casey@facebook (#239,149)

This book seems to be in good company with all the other books that had promise but never written.

Jay Casey@facebook (#239,149)

If you think writing a book is hard, try throwing a book party in New York.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

if you do find yourself at a book party, try talking to the Cat.

awlpoops (#187,223)

Gusy, I no never frogurt, butt I frogurt my login.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

listen, I know Blaine Washington. He's the guy who invented Blogurt.

NinetyNine (#98)

Shoulda pich it to Zine, She Said

Matt (#26)

I think Summer of Megadeth just posted their spreadsheet scores.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

dammit, I think I dropped my flip phone.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Nobody is mentioning that this is brilliant. Does that mean it's still "Ironically demonstrate against anti-irony" week?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Every book review written henceforth shall include one of these sentences in some tense or mood; it will no longer be necessary to insinuate the word "limned". For example: "Birds might well use the shreds for their nests." "If only the plot could coil round me like a python!" Or: "Dare the Nobel Prize Committee remark that its towering achievement would dwarf the highest praise?"

Your prose is like the aftermath of a Black Friday shopping riot at a Build-A-Bear Workshop.

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