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The book's reviews are the novel

You don't have to read it to have read it
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This is a novel which does not exist explicitly, but only in its reviews of which it is a collection. Each review focusses on another aspect of story and characters and cites some especially convincing or abhorring passages so that the reader will eventually know all what is to know about this novel without having read it at all. Since this is a tried and true method for party smalltalk you might call it baked. But I doubt if there is already a novel out in the wild adopting this technique.
Toto Anders, Feb 19 2016

Stanislaw Lem: A Perfect Vacuum https://en.wikipedi...ki/A_Perfect_Vacuum
Book consisting of review of fictitious books. Not quite what you describe, but somewhere in the neighborhood. [jutta, Feb 19 2016]

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius https://en.wikipedi...f_Staggering_Genius
Dave Eggers did it in the title [Toto Anders, Feb 23 2016]

/r/Glitch_in_the_Matrix thread about thunderbird photo(s) https://www.reddit....g_dead_pterodactyl/
What [bungston] is talking about [notexactly, Feb 24 2016]

[link]






       Lem is such a treasure, thanks for the reminder, jutta!
theircompetitor, Feb 19 2016
  

       The nice thing about this book is that you could have all kinds of different voices and tones. I call dibs on writing the review from Thrasher.
bungston, Feb 19 2016
  

       It could be a mystery novel in which you try to discover some secret about the backstory of one of the first reviewers, who is a frequent commenter but dies mysteriously...
RayfordSteele, Feb 19 2016
  

       [+] You could also have some interesting interplay in arguments about what actually happened. The reviewers could make reference to the tone and other subjective qualities of the writing to support their interpretation. The unique and somewhat annoying angle would be that you can't go and read it for yourself to see what you think it said.   

       Another interesting aspect might be that the author would not necessarily need to be a good writer in the traditional sense, since reviews are not always that well written. In other ways though it would require even more skill in order to make unique writing styles and also keep the whole thing readable.
scad mientist, Feb 19 2016
  

       Note from the editor:   

       Many lovers of the written word are quite familiar with many of the works of author Sir John Grisham* who's life spanned the the colorful period of time during the rise of the internet age, but there is one of his works that you have not read before. In his later years when his initial popularity began to fade and after the tumultuous falling out with established publishing companies, he published one or more works in eBook format. One of these novels was a game changer. It was heralded as groundbreaking. It also has been credited by many as taking the eBook reader from a device owned by a very limited demographic to being ubiquitous throughout all generations. Also, it revived the novel in an era when people thought that the written word had declined beyond hope in favor of movies and video games. It was for this work that he was bestowed the knighthood by the queen of England.   

       Sadly, this novel has been lost. As you well know, the cyber-war of 2045 wrecked havoc on the computer systems of the early 21st centrury. Distributed cloud- based backup systems were infected and destroyed. It has been more than 100 years now since that time, and as our society is getting back to its feet I was lucky enough to be hired to work for the data mining commission. As I was working on the team attempting to recreate the data on the Halverson method of treating autistic children, I stumbled across references to autism in this John Grisham novel. Being a Grisham fan myself, but having never heard of this, I wanted to investigate more, but at that time, the other research was by far more important to society.   

       After another 5 years spent attempting unsuccessfully to resurrect this purportedly miraculous autism treatment I was feeling broken and lost. I was put on a low priority tasking in data mining tax records. Then while cleaning out my files I ran across my notes again on this novel. Out of boredom and curiosity I requested permission to continue mining in my off hours between tax record recovery to see if I could find it. Unfortunately after another 5 years of work, I again came up empty. I had found many more references to this work: from articles, to reviews, to comments and discussions from everyday readers. I had loads of data, but the one thing that was always missing was the simple text. It was apparently never printed to paper, and every trace of the digital bits were lost forever. At this time it is a given that every person who read the original has died of natural causes, and considering the struggle for survival in the intervening years, it appears that there has been very little discussion of this work. A few people asked about the novel in the 2070s and quite a few people chiming in to request a copy if one was found, but beyond that, nothing.   

       Again, I was at the doorway of despair, thinking that I would never read this novel. And I loved this novel. But how could that be? Well I came to realize that after having read so much about it, I actually knew the characters. I new the plot, I new the subtle secrets that the author had hidden and the incredible imagery that was used. I had a purpose: to recreate this jem of a book. But after another year of labor I again despaired. I am no author like Sir Grisham. I can't paint a picture in words. I considered trying to get another author to help, but among any that I would consider gifted enough to perform this, I found no interest. So it has come to this. In order to allow others to experience this story, I am publishing the unedited material that I have found. After some initial attempts to put them in order I abandoned that too, because of the the interplay in discussions and the evolution of the interpretation over time. Therefore these are organized by source, with each collection of reviews or comments in the order in which they were written.   

       I apologize for the difficulty you may face while reading this, but I trust that it will worth your effort in the end.   

       meta-note: * One would need to get permission from a real well known author of the appropriate genre. I'm hoping to encourage his approval by predicting his future knighthood.
scad mientist, Feb 19 2016
  

       /get permission from a real well known author/   

       I say get a dead one, whose estate will not mind the publicity. My tastes run to Ed Burroughs and HG Wells. Maybe Lovecraft? Lovecraft's stories often refer to the Necronomicon and numerous other occult and blashphemous writings.   

       The fun thing about an effort of this type based on Lovecraft is one could deal with the book but also the results set in motion by its discovery. As the story unfolded one could include correspondence from his contemporaries, rare book dealers and then news clippings, public service bulletins etc. Maybe set the story in 1970s Cambodia and close with the SCP Foundation's herculean effort to cover up what actually transpired.
bungston, Feb 23 2016
  

       Yeah, I'm sure you could come up with a good introductory narrative for a dead author, but my narrative would require some major changes to work with an author who isn't around. I'm not familiar with Lovecraft, but from what you say, that sounds like it could be interesting.   

       The problem with my intro above is that it over-hypes the book and its impact on society. The reason for that was to provide a motive for taking the unconventional step of publishing the reviews. If the virtual book wasn't groundbreaking, why not just let it be forgotten? But that requires that the book (which has to be mostly developed, if not actually written) has to be really good as well, otherwise the whole thing will be a letdown.   

       A good conspiracy theory could certainly be another reason for the original being destroyed and a motive to publish what remains. The trick is having a plausible explanation for how enough people saw it to write things about it yet no copies of the original survived.
scad mientist, Feb 23 2016
  

       / how enough people saw it to write things about it yet no copies of the original survive/   

       Like the Thunderbird photograph!
bungston, Feb 23 2016
  

       Brings to mind a certain well-known brand of flenting wax.
ytk, Feb 24 2016
  

       "SPOILER ALERT"
smendler, Feb 24 2016
  
      
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