writing assignment

As in, I am soliciting one. Or many. It depends. This morning I was reading Der Spiegel’s interview with art forger and “hippie-like desperado” Wolfgang Beltracchi and I think his idea — somewhat problematic in execution, though strictly speaking it’s his €34 million in ill-gotten gains that are problematic — was a good one:

Beltracchi’s principle was not to copy the paintings of the Expressionists, but, as he says, to fill the gaps in their bodies of work. Either he invented new paintings and motifs, tying in to specific creative phases in the artists’ lives, or he created paintings whose titles appear in lists of the respective painters’ works but which were believed to have been lost — and of which no images existed.

I am going to spend the rest of the day browsing this list of lost works. An immediately tempting assignment-to-self: “Several pages of the original screenplay for Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes were reportedly thrown out of the window of a bus after one of his football team-mates threw up on them.” There are also some Mayan codices no one has seen since 1562, an Elizabethan-era play called “Hot Anger Soon Cold,” and the journal of an ambassador’s wife “burnt by her daughter on the grounds that it contained much scandal and satire.” If any of you keep a mental list of writers’ works believed to have been lost, you are very welcome to suggest something.

The Wondrous Mushroom

a mysterious book looking back at you:
it’s The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica via BeatBooks

8 responses to “writing assignment

  1. Peruse this list as well:

    Some in there need urgently, urgently to be written.

    • Metromania appears in the book I was reading just a little while ago during lunch so that caught my eye, but Deadly Vestments: A History of Inept Military Couture seems most suitable for me. Possibly to be completed via a simple formula involving items from my own closet + points on a map. The Six Bunny-Wunnies Join an Encounter Group would severely tax my limited drawing skills but might not be worse off for it.

      There is also the practice of reviewing unwritten books.

  2. Asking questions are truly good thing if you are not understanding anything completely, except this paragraph provides pleasant understanding yet.

  3. The list of lost work has the one I was thinking of, ‘In ballast to the white sea’ by Malcolm Lowry (who incidentally also wrote a novella called ‘Lunar caustic’). The list of fictional books doesn’t contain another that popped into my head, Hugo Vernier’s ‘The winter journey’ from Georges Perec’s short story of the same name. Writing that really would be a challenge – you’d have to familiarise yourself with swathes of 19th century French literature, of which Vernier’s novel is said to be a ‘premonitory anthology’…

    • I haven’t read any Lowry. Should I?

      I was mildly annoyed for much of yesterday afternoon because I’m certain there are some terrific fictional books via Harry Mathews missing from that list. I couldn’t remember if they’re in Tlooth or The Conversions and by the time I got home I forgot to check.

      My swathes of 19th c. French lit would need tremendous padding out for The winter journey.

  4. It’s been a long time since I read him. I suspect they are what you might call young men’s books, in that they invariably feature a male protagonist coming to term with the world, or failing to. ‘Under the volcano’ is much more than that, though, being set in Mexico and recounting the tale of an alcoholic’s descent into hell. Not an easy read on at least a couple of counts, as I recall.

  5. A male protagonist coming to term – now that would be an interesting read. I meant of course, coming to terms…

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