From "Rejected" to "Unfinished":
An explanation and an example
(Ibid. by Mark Dunn)


I began the Rejected Books series as a way to write about books I could not finish because they were driving me bananas. These are not books I could casually lay aside; these were books that demanded being written about but did not qualify for Five Books at a Time because I could not finish them. Would not finish them. Sometimes should not finish them.

It's a short series. Most books I don't finish it's because there was nothing to say about them anyway and I didn't care enough to complete my read before, say, the library demanded them back.

But sometimes I may not ever finish a book that I didn't dislike. And, thanks to Tim Parks, I no longer think that's a personal failing. In fact, I hope to not finish many more books in the future.

And so, from here on out, the sobriquet Rejected Books will be for books I actively despised. And Unfinished Books will be for books I did not choose to finish, but still wish to talk a bit about.

The first of which will be Ibid.: A Life in Footnotes (actually endnotes, but the protag has three legs so footnotes is funnier).

Mark Dunn is the author of Ella Minnow Pea, a truly delightful read (at least once---it's charm is sorta one-time-only in nature). Ella is only barely out of the novella range and is a vengeful lipogram, the protagonist losing access to more and more letters as she tries to communicate with the outside world.

Ibid is also constrained writing, this time consisting only of the endnotes to a lost biography. Another charming idea. This time about a hundred pages too long.

I haven't picked Ibid up in months and when I tried last night, and read a couple pages, I realized that as much as I have enjoyed the journey and the puzzles and the gimmicks and the cyphers, I was done. I did not believe the book could offer me anything greater than what it already had. It had been joyful and blithe and now it was over.

I will not finish Ibid.

But that is no reason you should not pick it up. It's a dandy read and you are certain to enjoy yourself.

Who knows?

You may even finish it.

No comments:

Post a Comment