Tag Archives: Novels

1994: An Insane Premise

In an afterword to the 25th anniversary edition of Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth tells a story about the first lines of his novels. When he was living in Chicago in the late 1950’s, he says, he once went to a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1753: Dedication

Tobias Smollett dedicated his third novel to himself: TO DOCTOR ——— You and I, my good friend, have often deliberated on the difficulty of writing such a dedication as might gratify the self-complacency of a patron, without exposing the author … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1939: That Mighty Obstruction

Ernest Vincent Wright’s 1939 novel, Gadsby, was written without words that contain the letter “e.” Here is the opening: If youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1974: Author Awarded Avocado

The opening of Walter Abish’s 1974 novel, Alphabetical Africa: Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1927: Work in Progress

On May 20, 1927, James Joyce wrote to Harriet Shaw Weaver about what should happen if he were unable to complete Finnegans Wake. Another writer, Joyce said, should take it up and finish it; he had the person in mind: … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1936: Then It Will Be Over

Here we are, alone again. It’s all so slow, so heavy, so sad … I’ll be old soon. Then at last it will be over. So many people have come into my room. They’ve talked. They haven’t said much. They’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1953: Description

As for his feet, sometimes he wore on each a sock, or on the one a sock and on the other a stocking, or a boot, or a shoe, or a slipper, or a sock and a boot, or a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment