Top Five Tuesdays: Fictional Authors
I just finished reading The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster and in Locked Room, the last book of the trilogy, there is a character named “Fanshawe” and he is a writer whose works were published posthumously to critical acclaim. And it made me wonder about the fictional writers that I have encountered whose groundbreaking works we shall never read in our reality. Such writers are the subject of today’s Top Five.
1. “Fanshawe” from The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Fanshawe is the author of three novels, five one-act plays, and over a hundred poems. He is someone who has written all of these without the intent to publish them because he considers his works as trash. Yet, when it was published posthumously, all of his works were received with critical acclaim.
He has also lived the life of a very interesting writer. He has a unique personality that draws the awe of everyone around him. He has worked in a cargo ship; did some odd jobs in Paris; lived alone for about a year; and estranged himself from his family while choosing the destitute life over an education from Harvard. His works have no description within The New York Trilogy but they are described as something that will stay in your mind indefinitely.
2. “Crispin Salvador” from Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
Crispin Salvador is called, if memory serves me right, the Jaguar of Philippine Letters. The only Filipino to be long-listed for the Nobel Award for Literature; one of the only few Filipino writers who has published a story in the New Yorker; and someone who has drawn the ire of other Filipino writers because of his fame. He has published a vast oeuvre of works that encompasses various genre including literary, young adult, detective noir, critical essays, and the self-serving autobiography.
Salvador’s works is something that interests me greatly. Excerpts can be found within Ilustrado and they seem very compelling and possess a degree of humor, tragedy, and darkness that can make a whole book good. To wit, one of his heroes is trash talking P.I. that uses a jet ski in the flooded streets of Manila; another is a little girl whose imaginations causes her to be locked up in a mental institution. I want to read more of their adventures and I want to pull out Salvador from the pages of Ilustrado and make him a reality.
3. “Logan Mounstuart” from Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Technically, I already read one work of Logan Mounstuart (LMS) and that is his journal, Any Human Heart. From this sort of autobiography, we learn about the life of LMS that is, as he said, “a life well lived.” Primarily, LMS is a writer but, through the course of his life, he also became an art dealer, spy, news correspondent, and an unwilling accomplice of an attempted bombing by radical leftists.
However, what I really want to know about (and read) are his other works especially his masterpiece, The Girl Factory, a tale about a man who fell in love with a prostitute and A Villa by the Lake, a novella that is based on LMS’ experiences as a POW in Switzerland. All of his works contains a tragic note that I find irresistible.
4. “Isaac Moritz” from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
There are two choices of fictional writers from The History of Love and it is either Isaac Moritz or Leo Gursky. However, since Isaac has the larger body of work and since his works contains themes that I have a certain weakness for, I chose him. Isaac is actually the son of Leo so I guess you could say that it is in the blood but Isaac is the successful writer since his works were published while Leo’s only book wallows in obscurity.
Isaac’s works seems similar to the works of Philip Roth and contains themes about Jewish identity, a theme that I have a weakness for. In one of Isaac’s works, his protagonist engages in a long monologue about tragedy and death after witnessing the brutal killing of a dog. Such an idea seems beautiful and haunting but people from the real world is deprived to read such a work.
5. “Karen Eiffel” from Stranger than Fiction by Marc Forster and Zach Helm
The only film in this list but I think it would be a crime to not include Karen Eiffel in a list about fictional authors. Stranger than Fiction is about Harold Crick, a man who finds out that he is living a life that is the subject of Karen’s new novel. To his dismay, he finds out that Karen’s books are about the death of her main characters and such deaths are the main points of her novel. As told to Harold by a literature professor, Harold’s death is essential in Karen’s new novel and it is what makes it a masterpiece.
Karen’s works seems like the kind of books that I would love. Tragic, mundane, and ends in the meaningful death of her protagonist. Reading them would be a profound and emotional experience that I think is similar to the feelings that I have felt when reading the works of Hesse (Beneath the Wheel) and Isherwood (A Single Man).