“At every author reading, invariably somebody asks where inspiration comes from, which is an interesting question—more to watch the author’s reaction (ranging anywhere from humorous contempt to frustrated anger. I’ve heard stories of people like David Foster Wallace chastising the asker and walking off the stage) than to hear any sort of answer. It’s considered by many to be to be an impossible answer, and perhaps most authors are satisfied to be authors without having to be neurologists as well. There are numerous writings that attempt to answer this question, however; notably in my mind is Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing.’
What’s extraordinary in The Loss Library is how much it deals with the questions of inspiration and process by meditating on a few of the ideas that failed. Starting off with an idea from old notebooks, Ivan Vladislavic revisits stagnant jottings and ruminates on the ideas themselves while at the same time giving the not-stories historical and personal context and reasons why these were never allowed to grow and take steps. By the time the reader gets to the story of ‘The Loss Library,’ striking from the first sentence in how it’s flushed out as a story in comparison to the elucidations that precede it, we expect this story to drop off at any moment, but the completeness of the story leaves an eerie space, being at the same time unfinished and finished—keeping with the theme of the first half of the book and pushing it as well. The book shifts, perhaps in mood but certainly in scope, and a book of jottings about unfinished and abandoned ideas rounds out almost to a novel, but certainly full and finished, making these orphaned thoughts one whole being. Vladislavic’s project is beautiful, original, inspirational, humble . . .”—Stephen, Ravenna Third Place. Buy The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories from Third Place Books.