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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

As Promised: Completism, Part 2

You've read the entire catalog, no exceptions. For which author(s) do you make this claim? Though single novel writers like Harper Lee ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and Ralph Ellison ("The Invisible Man") can count, my inquiry is more related to a line I've approached and heard others say they've crossed - a kind of compulsion to read everything an author has written.    

In my experience, this phenomenon (call it completism), takes hold in others especially when an author uses a repetitive fictional character like Sherlock Holmes. The crime/mystery/thriller genre and young adult fiction are noted for this author device. Those genres are not my favorites but there have been times when my preoccupation with a few authors has gotten a little out-of-hand, considering how many great writers there are to sample.

And along the way, that preoccupation has meshed a few times with an oh-so-mild case of completism. Which may explain why at present, I'm itching to read Wally Lamb's most recent novel - "We Are Water". I think this is because I've sincerely enjoyed Lamb's first four novels but it's also possible completism has got me. Doesn't matter that I haven't read any of Lamb's non-fiction. If I read "We Are Water", a check can go alongside the "Wally Lamb novels" box. Just like the check I put alongside the "Toni Morrison books" in 1992 after finishing "Playing In The Dark". But now her box has to be unchecked because I haven't read any of Morrison's work since. Damn.  

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