Everyone loves to get immersed in the world of a good book. But what about those trippy instances when the book’s world is the same world you live in? When an author tells you that the story in his novel’s pages might actually be . . . true? These five books live lives outside of themselves, with back stories that escape the page.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Snicket is a figure shrouded in mystery. In his stories, the three Baudelaire orphans find themselves in dire (a word that here means, “being chased by a tattooed madman who wants to steal their inheritance and constantly costumes himself in order to sneak into their lives”) circumstances. Snicket writes that he’s telling the Baudelaires’ story based on his personal experiences–he’s simply reporting a story based on the “evidence” he found. So in other words, these oft mis-classified stories are actual factual journals. Yeah, I’ll buy that.
In 1984, Harris Burdick (rumor has it) dropped off 14 illustrations with Mr. Wenders, a children’s book publisher, and promised to return the following day with the accompanying stories. But he never did. Those pictures were then published in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Over 20 years later, the long-lost stories have been found in the hands of 14 popular authors, including Louis Sachar, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, and Stephen King. Does this mean that Harris Burdick is on the move once more? Find out by reading one of the stories from the anthology–a tale from Wicked author Gregory Maguire, about a boy who takes a ring that isn’t his and a cruise ship called back into harbor–for a limited time here on Figment.
The Princess Bride abridged by William Goldman
The Princess Bride has it all. An impossible romance that conquers death. Sword-fighting between masters of the art. Battles of wit to shame all living intellectuals. Commentary from the book’s heavy-handed editor, William Goldman. The Princess Bride as we know it includes only the good bits of S. Morgenstern’s classic work of history, with commentary and editorial notes by Goldman. Though much has been altered, there are a few points in the story that Goldman was unable to alter. He had invented a reunion scene, for example, between the young couple Buttercup and Westley that he wished to include in his edition, but his attempt to editorialize was forcibly blocked by the lawyer of the Morgenstern estate. You can read about the injunction here. Gruesome stuff . . .
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
So, The Neverending Story is about a boy who, while reading a book called The Neverending Story, finds himself transported into the story as he reads it. So if you’re reading The Neverending Story about a kid who is reading The Neverending Story, are you the kid IN THE STORY? IS SOMEONE READING ABOUT YOU READING ABOUT THE NEVERENDING STORY?
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Taken from the series’s website: “Pittacus Lore is Lorien’s ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth’s fate. His whereabouts are unknown.” Part of that preparation includes writing a hit YA-novel that spawned a movie franchise. Do not presume to know their alien ways, human child!