I’ve often wished that I could have read the first few pages of the ingeniously-titled “Life of Packaging – Fragments of an Autobiography: Volume IX – The Styrofoam Years.” This fictional title, brought to life in the fictional pages of Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! , along with “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” in Philip K Dick’s Man in the High Castle, and the host of metafictional books conjured up by Dickens, Stephen King, and Haruki Murakami in their own novels, have eluded the general public for the simple fact that they don’t exist — they are perfectly-formed fragments of the fantasy world that the author dangles tantalizingly in front of the readers, but that is never fully graspable.
Readers, take my hand as we go through the looking glass and emerge in a reality where these metafictional titles really do exist, courtesy of the Invisible Library.
The Invisible Library is an online blog resource which, with the help of its avid readers, documents the fictional titles within fictional titles. A painstaking and probably never-ending project, The Invisible Library has teamed up with INK Illustration in curating the first attempt to make real the fantastic imaginings of writers far and wide — this week they’ve invited prolific writers such as Iain Sinclair, as well as members of the general public to come on down to the Tenderpixel Gallery in London to fill in the blanks that Dickens, King, and Murakami left out, and the covers of the actualized novels will be illustrated by the INK collective.
All a bit too Russian Dolls for you? This event seems like something our childhood selves would go crazy for, and prompted us to think about what other fictional creations we’d like to try and test in the real world…
1. George’s Marvelous Medicine Any tincture that involves anti-freeze, cow ointment and Brillident, a liquid for cleaning false teeth, must pack a hell of a punch. Admittedly, were this to be released on the market, the lengthy disclaimers and list of side-effects would warrant their own restorative drug program. Still, wouldn’t it be worth it to have the power to shrink your Grandma?
2. The Sorting Hat Whilst Hogwarts bares a striking resemblance to some of the awe-inspiring colleges of Oxford, they are all seriously lacking in one particular department: no Sorting Hat. Can you imagine how much easier the whole college rigmarole would be if all high schools were equipped with Sorting Hats? No SATs, no APs — simply put on the hat and wait for it to bark out the instruction that will determine where you’ll be spending the next four years of your life.
3. The Great Persky in our Closets From Woody Allen’s hilarious short story, The Kugelmass Episode, The Great Persky is a ridiculous magician-entertainer who is able to project his friend Kugelmass into Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Kugelmass proceeds to engage in an affair with Emma. This is one step ahead of The Invisible Library, and who amongst us hasn’t once sat in a fusty armoire, wishing themselves into Narnia? Or spent an endless childhood summer longing to meet Sally J Freedman as Herself? The Great Persky can make that happen.
Got any meta-fictional desires of your own to fulfill? The limit is truly within the realms of your imagination.