Unexpectedly, I’ve become a published author of fiction, with a piece in a recently published anthology. As its cover suggests, Identity & Anonymity is a collection of responses, both visual and verbal, to two subjects that have grown increasingly problematic in recent decades, for cultural as well as technological reasons. The contributors include a number of art-world creators—unsurprising, since the volume was assembled as an adjunct to an art exhibition—such as Judy Chicago and the Guerrilla Girls, as well as critics, poets, an art historian, an illustrator, the artist-journalist Molly Crabapple, a professor of psychology who’s also a collage artist, and even a writer who’s better known as a film actor, Peter Coyote. Though I’ve only dipped into it so far, the volume looks pretty stimulating, but I may be biased.
My contribution is a piece of very short fiction, called “A Man Who Vanished,” based on something I originally wrote for another purpose. The character it describes is modeled in a few respects on someone I knew; the name he bears here is somewhat fusty and perhaps made-up-sounding, an effect I decided to keep. Here’s the first paragraph:
In the back of a bookshop one sunny afternoon in San Miguel de Allende, after attending a funeral without a body, I read the text that had ended Laurence Pangborn’s life. It was in that old bookshop near his house, crowded with works in English as well as Spanish, where he had spent a lot of his time. Someone had already taken his library there, and I found all his books and papers, stuffed carelessly into boxes, in a back corner of the store. Having nothing to do for a few hours, I decided to inspect it.