Monday, February 25, 2008
The Book You'll Never Write
Today, during a noon hour browse at my university bookstore, I bought a most intriguing book by George Steiner titled My Unwritten Books. Its arresting cover image prompted me to pick it up, and its premise, as revealed by a quick flip through, proved irresistible. The book is comprised of seven chapters, each of which describes a book that Steiner hoped to write but didn't. The reasons for not writing them are as diverse as the topics the unwritten books were to have addressed. The jacket copy catalogues some of those reasons as follows: "Because intimacies and indiscretions were too threatening. Because the topic brought too much pain. Because its emotional or intellectual challenges proved beyond his capacities."
I have no doubt that you'll hear more from me about this book as I read my way through it. But in the meantime, I invite you to think about the books you'll never write. There's been a meme circulating recently which calls on participants to list the identifying features of a book they would write ("10 signs a book has been written by me"). So how about something of a counter-meme? Tell me about the book you'll never write, the one you'd like to tackle but won't, and why not.