Friday, August 16, 2019

Books Crying Out to be Written - Warren Bull

Image by Putika Ayura on Upsplash

Z is for Zealot by Sue Grafton.
We really miss you, Sue. It is a shame that your alphabet ended with Y.
Every book in the series showed your growth and willingness to experiment with the craft of writing. You were utterly fearless blogging about your work even while you were in the process of writing. I wish you had aged as slowly as Kinsey did so you could continue to demonstrate what authentic writing looks like. Even your minor characters came across as real people. Your research was impeccable. What I especially miss is your subtle humor and the way you could “lay it between the lines.”

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

When he died in 1870, Dickens had completed only six of his planned dozen installments for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Unfortunately, his death meant that the identity of the story’s murderer was never revealed—but things might have been different if Queen Victoria had been into spoilers: Three months before his death Dickens sent a letter to the Queen offering to tell her "a little more of it in advance of her subjects.” She declined the offer, and now we’ll never know what he might have told her. That hasn’t stopped at least a dozen people from writing continuations and adaptations, including one from a Vermont printer who claimed to have channeled Dickens’s ghost with his “spirit pen.”

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

At his death in 1910, Twain left behind three unfinished manuscripts of three different but related stories—"The Chronicle of Young Satan," "Schoolhouse Hill," and "No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger.” All involved Satan, Satan's nephew, or “No. 44.” Twain’s biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, cobbled the three together into a 1916 book called The Mysterious Stranger, based mostly on “The Chronicle of Young Satan” but with the ending from “No. 44.” The extent to which the work was Paine’s product, as opposed to Twain’s, wasn’t known until the 1960s, when editors published a second version that supposedly stuck closer to Twain’s original intent. The dark, dreamlike story is now considered Twain’s last great work.

The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway began The Garden of Eden in 1946 and worked on it intermittently for more than 15 years until his death in 1961, when he left it unfinished. However, the book was finally published in 1986, after a controversial editing process that cut it down by at least two-thirds and ripped out an entire subplot. Intriguingly, some scholars have argued that Hemingway was forging a new direction with the work, both in style and content, which the editing sacrificed and compressed.

Answered Prayers by Truman Capote

During the last years of his life, Truman Capote frequently claimed to be working on a book called Answered Prayers. (He signed the contract just two weeks before In Cold Blood hit bookstores and became a spectacular success.) But despite repeatedly extended deadlines with his editors and a generous advance, Answered Prayers was never completed. In 1971, during an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Capote referred to it as his “posthumous novel,” saying "either I'm going to kill it, or it's going to kill me.’”
Four chapters of the book were finally published in Esquire in 1975 and 1976, with disastrous results: the book was a thinly veiled account of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, many of whom were Capote’s friends. Stunned after recognizing themselves in the chapters, most of Capote’s friends abandoned him—sending the writer into a depressive spiral of drugs and alcohol from which some say he never recovered.
The book’s remaining chapters are something of a mystery. They may still be languishing in a safe deposit box somewhere (some think they’re in a locker at the Los Angeles Greyhound Bus Depot). Others think they may have never existed, despite all of Capote’s talk. Nevertheless, three of the chapters from Esquire were published in book form in 1987 (three years after Capote died) under the title Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel. Critics weren’t kind. One said: "It was never finished because it wasn't going anywhere."

The Journey Abandoned by Lionel Trilling

In 1947, Lionel Trilling, the prominent literary critic, published a novel entitled The Middle of the Journey. While conducting research in the archives at Columbia University, Geraldine Murphy discovered a second novel-a clean, well-crafted "third" of a book that Trilling described as having "point, immediacy, warmth under control, drama, and even size." The Journey Abandoned was supposed to be a novel about the anomalies of heroic action in a conformist age. Published with Geraldine Murphy’s writing and editing, the finished book offers a personal portrait of the life of letters in America. 

The Fellowship Continues by JRR Tolkien
I, for one, cannot believe that the Hobbits who returned from the quest lived out the rest of their lives without further adventures and daring deeds. I regret that Tolkien did not tell us what they were. I was particularly taken with Samwise “Sam” Gangee. He even wore the one ring briefly. He was tempted, but not swayed by the powers it promised. His unflagging loyalty, even in the face of impossible odds and hopelessness makes him one of the most deserving under-developed characters of all time. Oh, how I want a sequel.
Sanditon by Jane Austen

Who knows what wonders the novel, which would have included 11 chapters she had completed when she died, would have contained. Set in the bright, but absurd new seaside resort of Sanditon, it promised to be a satire of Regency follies, as only she could have written.

Which author left you hungering for more? What book would you love to see written?


Kait said...

What a great list! As for me, Twain and Grafton, oh, yes, please.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Z is for Zero. And the Austen would be a fun read, too.

Susan said...

I'm for more Austen!

Shari Randall said...

I'm with Susan - more Austen, please!