The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure
by C.D. Rose
Melville House, 2014. 175 pages. Fiction.
We hear a lot about published authors - those who have achieved fame and, sometimes, fortune through their production of the written word. However, the traditional biographies have traditionally shied away from including the almost published - those who had potential to write, but never actually achieved their goals. In this book, C.D. Rose seeks to redress this wrong, bringing to light 52 authors who had the genius to achieve greatness but who, through a variety of circumstances, never managed to succeed. From avant-garde literary movements that never got off the ground and magnum opuses written in lost languages, to lost manuscripts and artists still gathering material, words, or a building sufficiently grand in which to house their future works, this tome is a celebration of all the books that could have been, but never were.
Even though the biographies in this book are completely fictional - after all, who remembers writers who never actually produce anything readable - the collection actually makes the reader think about the nature of writing and why good writing is so valued. Beyond that, the writing is just good, clean fun and easy to relate to. This is a fun book for people who have thought about the mechanics of writing and the road to literary fame.