“Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?”

Die NYT über Romane, die von ihren Autoren und Autorinnen irgendwann im Stich gelassen wurden.

“”A book itself threatens to kill its author repeatedly during its composition,” Michael Chabon writes in the margins of his unfinished novel “Fountain City” – a novel, he adds, that he could feel “erasing me, breaking me down, burying me alive, drowning me, kicking me down the stairs.” And so Chabon fought back: he killed “Fountain City” in 1992. What was to be the follow-up to his first novel, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” instead was a black mark on his hard drive, five and a half years of work wasted.

That’s why you’ve never read “Fountain City,” just as you’ve never read John Updike’s “Willow,” Junot Díaz’s “Dark America” or Jennifer Egan’s “Inland Souls” — all abandoned by their authors after years of toil and piles of pages. Chabon, though, has recently published the first four chapters of “Fountain City” in the literary magazine McSweeney’s, complete with annotations that in turn bemoan and belittle the book that stole so much of his life before he put his misery out of its misery. (…)

As for Chabon, the fragments of “Fountain City” published this year offer a glimpse into a writer’s process and progress. It’s evident Chabon still can’t believe the wrong turns his “wrecked” novel takes – disbelief that shades, at times, into disdain for his feckless former self. “Wow, what a coincidence!” he notes mockingly, when the reception clerk at a Paris flophouse happens to be the student of the very architect who had sent the hero’s father a mysterious postcard from Israel. “Life is rife with coincidence.” You sort of want to give him a hug and remind him that unsuccessful novels happen to everybody.”

(via Monis Gezwitscher)