The Hunchback Dog

Saturday, 21 September, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

This title just came to me earlier, and it sounds like a great novel. Doesn't it ? Wouldn't you pick up and read a novel by that title ? Just the first few pages, just to see what the heck...

It occured to me I would definitely check it out. Sadly... there's no such novel. There's just the title. But perhaps a novel of that title could be written ? Obviously people start writing from the title down all the time, with usually appalling resultsi, but what if ?

And then, the mind wandered, and then if one could do this, perhaps one could do a set of novels, each titled so it works out to some amusing little ditty. For instance, suppose you wrote novel #1 and titled it Uyream Ieeeoh, and for the sake of argument let's imagine it actually is somehow quite about uyream ieeeohs, whatever those may be. Then next one, Kupddloiape T. Then a coupla years later F Dd Seutti S, and finally when you're good and ready Cuoaniylr Cfi.

Then just about when they're getting ready to give you the lifetime prose award, instead of an acceptance ceremony you show up with a piece of cardboard spelling it out for them :

"Fuck you, drop dead and smile you iliterate (sic) piece of shit". Because you know,

    F dd seutti s
    uyream ieeeoh
    cuoaniylr cfi
    kupddloiape t

How many times would you say this has already happened involuntarily, because people write in English titles that can be thus arranged in Swahili or whatever ? How many times would you say this has already happened quite voluntarily, and we've never heard about it because The Powers That Be At That Time managed to excise any trace of the offendant from the public record ? More importantly, how long until it happens again ?

And who do you think is going to be doing it ?

I just hope it is going to be coincidentally some guy by the name of Perelman. Or maybe some gal. Nadejda Perelman, a French national writing in Yiddish.

  1. I am confident that most bad contemporary prose is the result of people writing as if they were building a house : first get an idea of what you want the house to look like, then proceed to make a plan, cut it into parts, farm the parts out to specialists and assemble the whole. This is not ars, it is techne and the two don't work interchangeably. The correct - aye, the only! - way to write is to proceed from actual "centers of existence", be they characters, places, ideas, events, and then work their likely interaction together. You're not a writer if you know where your novel goes but don't know what your characters would do in any conceivable circumstance. Writers are exactly the opposite of this : they don't have a clue where their novel is going, but do know what their entities would do in any circumstance, with the latter being the actual cause of the former. And sometimes they can't write because they discover that what they think one entity would be doing in one context is actually wrong, as in that entity would be doing something else, which they can infer from the problems it creates with all the other entities. If they don't immediately realise what's wrong and don't have a quick alternative that works well they're stuck there for a while, and possibly the entire book has to be rewritten if it turns out they had misrepresented something fundamental about that one entity. Sucks, but it's how it goes. []
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