Second: As I mentioned before, we asked a bunch of writers to imagine books they wished had been written, either by themselves or by others, living or dead, real or imaginary. Alternatively, they could tell us something they believed about books and their power (or lack of it).
Aleksandar Hemon said, “If I could imagine it, I could write it,” but acknowledged that he wished he had “written Lolita, or at least ‘Spring in Fialta.’ A few of Chekhov’s stories too.” He added that “Literature—books—provide access to the areas of human knowledge that are not available otherwise. Therefore,” he said, “I am interested exclusively in the things that literature alone can do.”
Rabih Alameddine, whose conversation with Hemon ran in PEN America 9: Checkpoints, was one of several contributors who got to thinking about a beloved author whose writing life was cut short:
I wish Bruno Schulz had written a third book, or a fourth. Maybe he did and it got lost. No one knows for sure. Many writers have died before their time, but because of the horrific manner in which he was killed, and the genius of the two books he left us, I never cease to wonder what could have been. Imagine.Schulz is a major presence in PEN America 5: Silences, which includes excerpts from his Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, David Grossman’s See Under: Love, and Jerzy Ficowski’s “biographical portrait” of Schulz, along with a conversation between Alan Adelson and Henryk concerning the author. (Grossman paid tribute to Schulz at the World Voices festival—and in the pages of The New Yorker—in the spring. One of Schulz’s self-portraits is reproduced above.)
So what books do you wish existed? Tell us here.