Scott Esposito has recently published The Missing Books, a catalogue of written works that do not exist. LitHub, who has posted extracts from the work, describe its entries for ‘books that have not yet been published (but might one day be), books within books, and books whose authors did not manage to ever complete’. Among the nearly 100 texts listed are Jorge Luis Borges‘ Book of Sand, a work that promises totality and completeness but which never came to be; there is a non-existent universal dictionary of every word in every language; and H. P. Lovecraft‘s Necronomicon, a book of magic to be written and expanded by future authors. In each case, Esposito is alluding to books that seem to hover tantalizingly between presence and absence.
“Scott Esposito’s The Missing Books maintains the significance of writing and literature as a space of imaginative potential”
As LitHub mentions, Esposito includes works-in-progress such as Cormac McCarthy’s science novel, The Passenger, alongside completed works that have either been condemned to obscurity or set aside for a future time. Margaret Atwood’s contribution to the Future Library Project is one of the latter, a short story that has been buried in a time capsule for a new generation to find.
The Missing Books helps us to think about literature itself as something provisional, incomplete, and radically-inclined toward the future. Drawing from writers including J. M. Coetzee, Stephen King, Roberto Bolaño, Vladimir Nabokov, Ralph Ellison, Helen DeWitt,and Philip K. Dick, we see how literature allows us to question and re-evaluate notions of truth and imagination, presence and absence, and the way we understand our place in history. Scott Esposito’s The Missing Books maintains the significance of writing and literature as a space of imaginative potential.
Scott Esposito’s The Missing Books is available as an e-book from Conversational Reading.