I was quite pleased when a good friend told me today how fascinated she was by my blog posts of the last two days – first my description of a Jazz-era novel celebrating carnal relations between a woman and a sewing machine, and then my learned disquisition on the entire subgenre of illicit love between humans and their household appliances, as well as the subsequent political suppression of this literary form on suspicion of being part of a vast communist conspiracy.

It took a moment for me to realize that my friend was taking these two posts at face value. When I wrote them it had never occurred to me that people would think this was a real book or a real literary movement. I must say I was quite pleased to hear that were at least somewhat convincing. If anything, I had worried that the entire premise was so patently ridiculous that nobody would see the humor in it.

Back when I was in high school there was a rule that said that if you wrote a book review, it had to be about an actual book that really existed. You couldn’t just make something up out of whole cloth. Although I do recall that in the twelfth grade, Bill Bauer earned my undying respect and admiration for turning in a report, together with extensive footnotes and properly formatted references, whose subject was an entirely made up book. The teacher gave Bill an A for this report, and singled it out in class as exemplary work. None of us felt any particular need to inform the teacher that Bill had made the entire thing up out of his head. We were far too lost in admiration of our classmate’s bold and brilliant feat to even think of ratting him out.

Now that I’m all grown up and don’t need to worry about grades, it occurs to me that I can write about any book – those already born and those as yet unborn, as the Mormons would say. Well, actually, the Mormons go even further and also talk about the rights of “the formerly living”. But when they do that they are not actually referring to books. Rather, they are referring to lists of names of dead Jews (they seem to particularly seek out Jew names for some reason) so they can baptize the lot of them post-death, in order to send as many souls to heaven as possible, possibly so as to ensure their own welcome there.

You think I’m making that last part up, but I’m not. The phrase “formerly living” actually shows up prominently on signage in the Mormon Church’s museum in Salt Lake City. If you visit there, don’t stand around reading the signage for too long, or else people dressed in weirdly midcentury clothing are likely to save your soul while you’re not looking, and you may find yourself dressing up in outfits left over from the Eisenhower era and selling pencils in the Utah airport.

But I digress….

It seems to me that once you open book review subjects up to books that *might* exist, but just don’t happen to exist in this particular parallel universe, then the space of possibilities grows exponentially. Besides, there’s always the possibility that if you pen a good enough description of a book, somebody will one day come along and actually write the damned thing.

Don’t laugh. After Kurt Vonnegut dropped enough mentions throughout his novels of the fictional author Kilgore Trout, Trout went ahead and actually wrote a book – Venus on the Half-Shell OK, it was actually Philip José Farmer only pretending to be Kilgore Trout, but it was still pretty cool.

Don’t you think?

One Response to “Pleased”

  1. ThePig says:

    That was all a hoax? I loved it!

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