Tag Archives: fiction

The Museum of Unfinished Novels: Track One

Welcome to the Museum of Unfinished Novels. Founded in 1953, the Museum of Unfinished Novels preserves for all time abandoned acts of human creativity.

Our tour begins in the East Hall, but before you exit the lobby, we suggest you approach the exhibit directly below the crest of the golden dome, where you can reflect on the unfinished novel of Annie Jarvis.

With each minuscule letter painstakingly etched into the floor in 1982 by Calcedonia Siracusa, a Sicilian marble carver who donated her time to the museum in exchange for a season pass to the Palermo Opera House, this unfinished novel by Annie Jarvis is only missing its last punctuation mark. At 8,231 printed pages, Jarvis’ novel stands as the longest unfinished novel in our collection.

If you’ve made your way to the carving, you’ll notice a selection of handheld magnifying glasses at your feet. Take a moment to kneel and retrieve one, and then spend some time examining the artwork etched into the floor. You wouldn’t want to come to the Museum of Unfinished Novels and bypass the incredible vertigo known to overcome our visitors as they read Miss Jarvis’s odious and amateurish prose as its been captured by Miss Siracusa, each letterform carved into the hard white marble with such uncanny precision and craftsmanship as to contradict the ineptitude of Miss Jarvis’ talent.

Now stand and look at the whole of it again. Note the way the text twists in and over itself, almost as if it were a tangle of hard-covered wires. Realize for a moment not only how meticulously Miss Siracusa has carved each curlicue so as to make it flow miraculously into the following letter, but also how many individual words — 2,912,358 to be exact — Miss Siracusa was able to fit inside that twelve-foot circle of marble. Take another moment and allow yourself to experience real and true awe at the achievement of this humble Sicilian marble carver, and realize that within her achievement lies the opposite of everything this museum stands for.

[Seven seconds of silence]

You may now pause the tour until you enter the East Hall.

[Full stop]

Welcome to the East Hall!

Donated in 1939 by Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Katz, the East Hall holds artifacts from both our permanent collection and our seasonal exhibits. If you choose to peruse our permanent collection, please skip to TRACK TWO. If you choose to explore our seasonal exhibit, [different voice] SOPHOMORE SLUMP: THE ART OF THE ONLY SENTENCE [/different voice], please select TRACK FIVE.