Friday, February 17, 2017

What Happens to His Works When an Author Dies?

I can't help thinking about F.L. Light and what has become of his works. Yesterday, I found another photo of him, and in this one he is not wearing a baseball cap.

If you enlarge the photo, you can see that he has a number of library books on the shelf behind him, and some of the titles are The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street, The Annenbergers, Dark Genius of Wall Street. Other titles are harder to make out. On the screen of his computer, there is part of a play, I think it might be about Henrry Clay Frick.  But it is Carnegie who is speaking here:

Carnegie: I cannot tough inimicality
endure, Unflattering audaciousness

He takes too far. His hostile diffidence
 In me divides us. Now my causeful heart
 He counter-hurts. The freckest rupture... 
The editing software on his screen has underlined two of the words he used as wrong: "causeful" and "freckest", They aren't wrong. They just aren't common.

I don't know who his literary heirs are, or why all his books in print are now not available any longer, except in secondhand form. I noticed that just last month, long after Light had died, someone posted a recording of an excerpt of one of his works on Youtube. It was a translation.

 I am not sure whether this is an authorized edition, but I would not be quick to pursue the person doing it, even if it is not. After an author is dead, if he has no heirs, people who copy his works for their own profit are his biggest helpers. They spread his words and cause them to be disseminated, and this is what authors generally want.

On the screen, the poster comments that listening to an audio recording of a book helps the listener to learn how to properly pronounce words that are new to him. Then we are invited to download a free audio file. I would exercise caution in doing so, because sometimes these free things being offered are a trap -- a Trojan horse that unleashes an army of spammers onto our computers. But you never know -- it could be benign.

I also wonder what happens to reviewers once they die. So far, all of Light's reviews of my books are still up there. But I am taking the precaution of saving screen shots, in case they later disappear.

He found less to praise in Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain than in Vacuum County, but his evaluation of Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain was quite positive.

I like the way he evaluates loyalty from an ancient perspective. I think there is something about my works that appeals to classicists, because they understand the historical context of the master servant relation better. .Light never read Our Lady of Kaifeng.  The second half did not come out until six days after he died. I can't help but wonder what he would have thought of it.

Light himself preferred audiobooks. He converted Vacuum County to audio before that was common. He had text-to-speech programs that helped him to do this. It is possible that because he was a poet, Light  understood that we need to hear poetry out loud, before we can properly appreciate it. It may be that his works in audible form will outlive his written words.

But I would still like to know: Who is his literary executor and why are all his books suddenly out of print?

Related Links 


  1. I am not a huge fan of audio books, but I know these are popular with people who drive long distances here in SoCal. Too bad more people cannot discover your books in audio format. That is inventive how FL Light converted books to audio on his own.

    1. Hi, Julia. It's funny you should say that about more people discovering my books in audio format. Only yesterday, Kelly Clear, who has been singing the part of Blood for The Debt Collector demos, has indicated to me that he would be happy to record Vacuum County on Audible. I am going to post a short demo of his reading in this blog. Of course, the project will be a long one, as there are 27 chapters in the book.

      I am not a big fan of audio books, either, but I like Kelly's reading of the book. And who knows, it may bring me many more readers in the future.