When ”The Book With No Name” was published in 2000 by Anonymous, it was quite the sensation. It was this wild, crazy story about the Bourbon Kid and before publication, the novel was an internet sensation, but to me, I relished the fact that this book was called “The Book With No Name” by Anonymous. The title suits the craziness of the book, even though many call it by its nickname “Bourbon Kid”.
The idea of a completely anonymous book intrigues me.
Some books or rather manuscripts was authorless, because they existed for generations as verbal storytelling before being put to paper or the author is just unknown. Through history, many authors have depended on being anonymous to write about controversial subjects. It could also denote as selfless author, who wishes to send the book out into the world without any strings attached.
However, the frequency of books by Anonymous is low, which could hint at functioning civil liberties as freedom of thought and speech – and publication, but is there a downside to the death of Anonymous?
Generally, a book is closely related to its author. We herald the book and at the same time the author’s accomplishment. We want the book autographed. We want to hear or read interviews and behind the scenes titbits. We envy the author’s dedication to perservere despite the daily humdrum life depriving him or her of writing time, the endless rejection letter from agents and publishers, and the few pennies that most authors see with the publication of their book.
We also use the author and his or her life as a reference to understanding the book, understanding the context within which the book was conceived. Emily Dickinson’s reclusive life add the extraordinary depth and vision in her poetry. Emma Donahue’s “The Room” published in 2010 gains a horrible backdrop from the Fritzl case from 2008. The book stands alone, but the recent cases from around the world give the book a reality check regarding the horrible human nature.
There is another side to the subject to anonymous writing: the author’s responsibility. Now, despite my legal background, I not considering immaterial law or defamation or the life, but a moral responsibility to stand by our word. Maria Bustillos writes about a variation of this in the New Yorker under the headline “By Anonymous: Can a Writer Escape Vulnerability?” I recommend the post.
As intrigued as I am of sitting with a secret untitled book by Anonymous, I have come to the conclusion, that I appreciate knowing the identity of the author. How I use that knowledge when reading, could be the subject of a different blog post.