Recently The Modern Word sponsored a contest we named “The Discovery”:

Contest #3:
You have just discovered a text by a famous author – a manuscript, a letter, a page of notes, a shopping list, a few doodles, etc. It could be something entirely new, or it could directly relate to an established work. Describe your “discovery,” providing background, context, and exploration of possible “meaning.”

As the entries started to come in, we were a bit surprised at some of their depth – more than a few people took this as an opportunity to spin Borgesian yarns, filling our in-box with tales of imaginary books, treacherous academics, and pages which acted as portals to other worlds. Indeed, Borges was quite prominent, and several people called upon him directly – Raphael Pallais was visited by Borges’ apparition, while Fabio Arciniegas actually discovered his memories. A few others took a different tack, choosing to fabricate entire lost works: Paul Kane provided a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of Harry Matthew’s An English Similitude, Dan Geddes outlined Faulkner’s Ulysses-like Sons of the South, and John Cooper measured himself against Dostoevsky, whose Flaws of the Flawless was discovered scrawled across “four hundred loose and unnumbered pages, a canvas jacket, a pair of boots and seven planks of rotted wood.” As usual, humor again played an important role – not only in some of our winning entries, but particularly in Shahar Even-Dar Mandel’s “No More Waiting,” in which the third act of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot reveals the titular character to be a pizza delivery man.

It was not easy selecting a final three, but in the end we decided to adhere as closely as possible to the question posed by the original contest itself, while making some allowances for inventive fiction. The First Prize winner will recieve a signed copy of Alan Moore’s Voice of the Fire. Other prizes include numerous books, which will be mentioned here just as soon as the winners select them.

And the Discoveries Are...

1. The Lost Documents of Abu Bakr Al-Razi, “The Atheist”
By Hamad Rayes

2. Seaward
By Garrett Rowlan

Tie for Third Prize:

3. Alternate Titles Revealed
By Wally Bubelis

3. Usher Lee O’Pegg: The Last Novel of James Joyce
By Matthew A. Ilseman

Honorable Mentions:

Most Enigmatic Contest Entry, Ever:

The De Saint-Martin Text
By Michael Cavagnaro

Not Quite According to the Rules, But Still...

The Tawny Carnet
By Raphael Pallais


All books courtesy from the respective publisher. We’d especially like to thank Top Shelf for donating the signed Alan Moore novel! And a special thanks to Tammy Duncan of Orange You Glad for her contest idea.

All winners, including honorable mentions, will remain on The Modern Word in perpetuity, at stable URLs, until the end of the world as we know it.

Your friendly neighborhood judges:

Richard Behrens
Andrew F. Duncan
Chris Gross
Allen B. Ruch
Loki the Parrot