If I want to be remembered as a writer, I need to step up my production of fictional books.
I am not talking about writing fiction, though that probably wouldn’t hurt. No, what I need to be unforgettable are books that no one can read because they don’t actually exist.
Some of my favorite books exist merely as titles, jokes and plot points. I would really love to read Hogwarts, A History just so Hermione’s not the only one who’s read it. A book over 1000 pages has got to have more in it than convenient plot complications like the inability to Apparate on the grounds. Sure, it glosses over the darker bits like bigotry and the Rotfang Conspiracy, but there’s got to be something in there about how much it costs to heat the place in the winter, and how they managed to outfit the castle with indoor plumbing if it’s protected with Muggle repelling charms.
Despite the horrifying implications of The Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Shadows, I am intrigued by the puzzle revealed in its illustrations. The fact that I can never actually hold a copy of this occult text does nothing to quench the desire to look upon it with mine own eyes. Believe me, I want to see it just for the illustrations, I don’t have any designs on opening a portal to hell.
Non-existent rare occult books seem to hold a special fascination for me, perhaps because they seem so much better than the ones that really exist. Maybe it’s because I’m reminded that one of the most famous such books, The Necronomicon, is very likely the most famous book Lovecraft never wrote.
The manuscript which outlined a story of a vast medieval library where lived a copy of Aristotle’s lost treatise on Comedy? How I wish that Eco hadn’t ever even hinted that such a manuscript was anything other than a figment of his imagination.
Novels about the power a book can hold over a reader are a particularly compelling subject for authors. Most authors have felt that enchantment themselves, and creating characters who fall under the spell of a rare and wondrous volume is much more like writing fact than fiction, even if the book that captures their character’s imagination is completely and totally fake.
In truth, those fake books become perfect in our imaginations.
There’s little chance that any of these books could live up to the perfection they have attained in our minds. The reality of them is bound to be a disappointment.
If books that don’t exist can achieve perfection, all I need to do is convince you of the importance of my book, The Lost Cemetery. It was a very small printing about a decade ago, published under a pseudonym. I don’t even have a copy myself.
The Lost Cemetery is a compelling thriller which focuses on the lost burial place of John the Baptist. As many scholars know, his grave is rumored to hold the secret to a code hidden in the inscriptions on first century tombs. The cemetery code is discovered by intrepid librarian Sally Harris, who tries to follow the MacGuffin trail straight to the books saved by Ptolemaic priests from the lost library of Alexandria.
If you do find a copy of The Lost Cemetery, beware. Almost everyone who has read the book has died a mysterious death, which is not entirely my fault. You have been warned.