Wednesday, February 23, 2011


          What are your thoughts on books being released by a writer posthumously?  I’m definitely conflicted about it.  On one hand, there are books that the writer had every intention of publishing, (ie...Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and follow ups) but simply didn’t live long enough to see it through.  On the other hand, there are some, like Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes or the volumes of poetry by Emily Dickinson, that weren’t even on the author’s publishing agenda.  As a writer myself, I feel an artist’s output is theirs alone and should be protected from exploitation, whether they’re alive or not.  In Crichton’s case, his aide apparently found the manuscript on his computer after he passed away.  By some accounts, he’d penned the story as far back as the early 1980’s!  I think it’s a safe bet that if he’d wanted it published, there would be no publisher on Earth that would turn down the author of some of the best-selling contemporary American novels. So part of me thinks it’s completely wrong to go and publish something that an accomplished author obviously had no desire to have published. 
            But, it’s the other part of me that’s reading Crichton’s book (and loving it!) that is thankful they did.  And yes, I feel guilty about it.  I feel like I’m invading his privacy.  But, as much as I don’t feel good about it, I am really enjoying the book.
            See?  Conflicted. 
            So I’d be interested in hearing what everyone else thinks about this...


  1. Hey Tim,
    Interesting post. I sort of feel like it's up to a writer to lay out his or her wishes for unfinished, unpublished writing. Having said that, we don't always know when we're going to that great library in the sky. At that point, I think it's up to the heirs, or executors who best knew the writer to decide what they would have wanted. Of course, greed often gets in the way. I'm leaving instructions to destroy everything that wasn't published by the time I'm gone. For me, death is a hard stop to publication.

  2. Anne Frank, Kurt Vonnegut ( Armageddon in Retrospect for example) Tolstoy...Much needed in the literary world. As a reader, I am better introspectively, as a writer, you are better spiritually. Without the insights of these and many many numerous other greats publishings after their deaths, we would have left an empty spot in our souls......After all, would you not want your name left in history? Your sight?