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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Writer's Life 3/13 - Lost & Found

With the news seeming old hat today, I went list-trolling and found an interesting one at It has been edited heavily by yours truly: Following the commercial failures of Moby Dick and Pierre; or, The Ambiguities, Herman Melville offered his next idea for a novel to Nathaniel Hawthorne, who turned it down. The Isle of the Cross came from a story Melville heard about the daughter of a lighthouse keeper who married a sailor only to be abandoned by him while she was pregnant—and have him return 17 years later. The work was rejected, though the reason remains unclear. Some have suggested the publisher wanted to avoid legal challenges from relatives of the woman. No copies of the manuscript exist... L. Frank Baum wasn't confined to the wonderful world of Oz. He wrote several books aimed at mature audiences. Four—Our Married Life, Johnson, The Mystery of Bonita, and Molly Oodle—were never published. His oldest son alleged in his memoir that his mother set the manuscripts on fire, though many suspect he lied about this to get back at her for bumping him from her will... Sylvia Plath committed suicide at 30, leaving behind only one novel, The Bell Jar. Ted Hughes, her husband, revealed in his memoir that she had been working on an autobiographical novel titled Double Exposure or Doubletake. Supposedly, the book dealt with the disintegration of Plath’s marriage to Hughes. He claims the manuscript “disappeared somewhere around 1970.” Whether or not it was completed is unknown. Given that it likely painted an unflattering picture of the adulterous Hughes, some suspect the “disappearance” wasn't a accidental... Thomas Hardy's first submission, The Poor Man and the Lady, was rejected, derided for being overly philosophical and satirical. Though he held on to the manuscript throughout his successful career, he destroyed it years before his death... A suitcase filled with early works by Ernest Hemingway was stolen from his wife’s seat on a train. Included was an in-progress World War I novel. Hemingway never attempted a rewrite... Before Hunter S. Thompson pioneered Gonzo journalism, he wrote a novel, Prince Jellyfish, an autobiographical tale that followed a boy from Louisville trying to make it in the big city. It was rejected. Thompson later described it as forgettable. His next novel, The Rum Diaries, a story inspired by his time as a journalist living in Puerto Rico, went unpublished until Johnny Depp discovered it at Thompson's home. The actor encouraged the author to get it into print... Unlike many works on this list, Margaret Atwood’s Scribbler Moon isn't lost. The story is safe inside a special room at the Deichmanske Public Library in Norway, but it won’t be read until 2114. The manuscript was the first entry into the Future Library. Conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the literary time capsule will gain one original piece from a prominent author every year for 100 years. As the century winds down, a forest of saplings planted outside Oslo in 2014 will flourish. When the contents of the library are ready to be seen, the trees will be chopped down and made into paper for the stories to be printed on. One can reserve - for grandchildren, I presume, - the entire collection for $1000.

Millions of manuscripts have been rejected. Then there are those works that are rejected by time, that become passe`. August Strindberg's Miss Julie is one. I'd never read anything by the "Father of modern Swedish literature," so I looked forward to it and was disappointed. Fortunately, the rigid class and gender lines, the strict sexual mores of 1888 no longer exist in the western world. Of course, division still remains, but it is mostly through income, and the folks at the bottom have a far greater chance of moving up than they did more than a century ago. In fact, it can't be said that wealth and class are not synonymous, as the media so often shows. If Miss Julie is remembered a hundred years hence, it will be as a part of an impressive body of work and because it was one of the first plays to introduce naturalistic dialogue to the world, and also one of the first driven by character rather than plot. Here's how the author's page at Wiki describes it: "... he used Charles Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest and dramatized a doomed sexual encounter that crosses the division of social classes. It is believed that this play was inspired by the marriage of Strindberg, the son of a servant, to an aristocratic woman." It spans only 35 pages. In the volume that came into my possession, there is an 11 page preface by the author that explains the work and how he thinks it should be staged. He was also a novelist, essayist, poet and painter, but is known almost exclusively for his plays outside his homeland.

It was the calm before the storm today. Although the sun is still shining at present, 4:51 PM, a massive Nor'easter is bearing down on the area. At least a foot of snow is expected, possibly two. Up until now winter has been benign. Mother Nature seems to want revenge... My thanks to Jack of Chase, who bought three paperback thrillers, to the young woman who bought an obscure novel, to the old timer who bought two books in Russian, to the middle aged woman who bought three, and to Bad News Billy, who bought the eight CD's I had on display, which he plans to distribute to old friends at his 49th high school football reunion. Thanks also to the angelic woman who has been so kind the past few years, who this time donated a bio of Pope Francis, a children's book, and a beautiful art pictorial. I hope the snow melts as fast as it usually does in March. I don't see the floating book shop returning to action to at least Saturday.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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