Unfinished Business @ Electric Literature

Unfinished Business at Electric Literature

Each of my “Unfinished Business” columns at Electric Literature examines an unfinished work left behind by one of our greatest authors. What might have been genius, and what might have been better left locked in the drawer? How and why do we read these final words from our favorite writers — and what would they have to say about it? We piece together the rumors and fragments and notes to find the real story.

APR 5, 2019

APR 5, 2019

Philip K. Dick’s Unfinished Novel Was a Faustian Fever Dream

The sci-fi author died before he could write "The Owl in Daylight," but he described trippy plot ideas about aliens, music, and Disneyland

What Happened to Sylvia Plath’s Lost Novels?

Plath herself burned one of her unpublished manuscripts, but the other disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The Lost Nabokov Novel That Was Almost Burned—And Maybe Should Have BeeN

‘The Original of Laura’ was published 32 years after the author’s dying wish to have it destroyed

Truman Capote’s Lost Novel Would Have Aired All His Dirtiest Laundry

The surviving chapters of ‘Answered Prayers’ feature real people and real gossip—but what happened to the rest?

Ralph Ellison’s Unfinished Magnum Opus ‘Juneteenth’ Was 40 Years in the Making

After an early draft was lost to arson in 1967, the manuscript ballooned to more than 2,000 pages by Ellison’s death in 1994

The Book James Baldwin Couldn’t Bring Himself to Write

‘Remember This House’ was supposed to look at the legacy of great civil rights leaders, but it never saw the light of day

Now More than Ever, We Wish We Had These Lost Octavia Butler Novels

‘Unfinished Business’ examines the groundbreaking sci-fi writer’s plans for her ‘Earthseed’ series

Flaubert’s Unfinished Novel Is One Big Middle Finger to Literary Tradition

France’s premiere realist author left behind a work that feels more like “Waiting for Godot”

The Second Death of Clarice Lispector

After a fire destroyed all her work and nearly killed her, Lispector’s friend and assistant nursed together a novel out of fragments


F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Love of the Last Tycoon

Was Fitzgerald’s final novel a masterpiece-in-progress, or an all-out mess?