Books with extensive, fake sources
September 6, 2015 5:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for fiction with extensive sourcing/citations that are entirely fake.

Examples that I have read would include House of Leaves (Danielewski), Night Film and Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Pessl), and The Ghost Network (Disabato).
posted by quadrilaterals to Writing & Language (52 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
Infinite Jest?
posted by Constant Reader at 5:46 AM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov is pretty much the Grand Arch King of Zembla of this sort of thing. Don't read too much about it before going in.
posted by kariebookish at 5:47 AM on September 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


Eaters of the Dead, Micheal Crichton, has a few.
posted by Mogur at 5:50 AM on September 6, 2015


The novel "The Princess Bride" is very fun example of this.
posted by thebrokedown at 5:55 AM on September 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Would a mix of fake and real qualify? If so, my gentleman friend suggests Kiss of the Spider Woman. There's also Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
posted by prewar lemonade at 5:59 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm told by my husband that the hoary Science Fiction classic "Lucifer's Hammer" is chock-a-block with references to fake books by real authors. But my husband is also a bit in the hoary side, so his memory of the book may be a little shaky. Could not find cites on this in a cursory web search.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:03 AM on September 6, 2015


Oh! And Lanark by Alasdair Gray has strange, meandering footnotes where you are never quite sure what is happening.
posted by kariebookish at 6:05 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Randall Kenan's Let the Dead Bury their Dead.

Some of Doris Lessing's Canopus in Argos might have them too?
posted by mareli at 6:11 AM on September 6, 2015


Doesn't Borges do this frequently (at least in his short fiction?)
posted by dismas at 6:15 AM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
posted by novelgazer at 6:17 AM on September 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Third Policeman has a subplot regarding the nefarious goings-on of the various interpreters of copious writings of the genius/inventor/philosopher/idiot De Selby.
posted by scruss at 6:24 AM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Foundation Trilogy, though the citations are all to the same fictional source.
posted by devinemissk at 6:32 AM on September 6, 2015


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is all based off of a fictional reference book.
posted by xingcat at 6:35 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin
posted by lepus at 6:45 AM on September 6, 2015


John Hodgman's hilarious trilogy:
The Areas of my Expertise
More Information than You Require
That is All
posted by The Deej at 7:01 AM on September 6, 2015


World War Z
posted by fuse theorem at 7:15 AM on September 6, 2015


Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the America's is composed of what are basically short stories, presented as encyclopedia entries, of fictional far-right writers in Latin America. The pieces interconnect and build on each other (and are situated within real history and literature), and it is my favorite book of his.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:16 AM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good Omens also revolves around a fictional book of prophesies.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:52 AM on September 6, 2015


Borges does this in his short fiction.
posted by the sobsister at 8:05 AM on September 6, 2015


One of Michael Moore's books, I think Stupid White Men, had a really long "About the Typography" section at the end, like a whole short story instead of the typical sentence or two.
posted by odinsdream at 8:06 AM on September 6, 2015


Many Kurt Vonnegut books mention a fictional author, Kilgore Trout. Phillip Jose Farmer (writing as Kilgore Trout) wrote Venus On The Half Shell which expands one of the fictional quotes into a full book.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the stories in Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen is a bibliography.
posted by dfan at 8:22 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's sort of what you're looking for and sort of the the opposite of it, but I love the book Ibid: A Life. The entire book consists of the endnotes to a fictional biography, the only extant copy of which was supposedly destroyed, leaving only the endnotes for the reader to piece together the story from. It's fantastic.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:42 AM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's more autobiographical than fiction (though a mix of both), but Richard Ayoade's Ayoade on Ayoade has plenty of footnotes with fake citations.
posted by imaginary_mary at 8:45 AM on September 6, 2015


I don't know if all the works cited at the end of The Andromeda Strain are fake, but at least a few of them are attributed to characters in the story.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:47 AM on September 6, 2015


Borges both does this in his fiction as well as reviewing fictional works (eg Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote).

Susanna Clarke has a fair bit of footnoting in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
posted by PMdixon at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


as mentioned by many Borges
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
posted by adamvasco at 9:10 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a fair amount of this in The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon - not footnote/endnote references, but the plot weaves in references to a number of fictional works.
posted by capricorn at 9:26 AM on September 6, 2015


S.
posted by lakemarie at 9:31 AM on September 6, 2015


Let me be the fourth to suggest Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Great hunks of the book are given over to fictitious footnotes and citings of imaginary tomes with gloriously fusty names.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2015


The "Dune" books by Frank Herbert start chapters with quotations from various sources. All the sources are fake (e.g. the Orange Catholic Bible, which is the common bible commonly found in the Dune universe some 10,000 years in the future from us), but some of the quotations are real, like this one (via Wikiquote)

When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.
Words of an ancient philosopher (Attributed by Harq al-Ada to one Louis Veuillot)

The quote is real (or a real translation) from a French 19th-century writer/journalist. Harq al-Ada is a frequently-sourced historian in the Dune universe.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:25 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


This may not be what you're asking for exactly, but Polish SF writer Stanislaw Lem wrote this collection of his reviews of fictional books, called A Perfect Vacuum (translation by Michael Kandel, who is almost certainly the best translator of Lem's works). Some of the books reviewed are highly conceptual. I seem to recall one or two of them being impossible.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:28 AM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


A.S. Byatt, Possession
And doesn't Foucault's Pendulum have a lot of that too?
posted by bluebelle at 10:30 AM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Blazing World, Siri Husvedt
posted by SoftRain at 11:25 AM on September 6, 2015


The "Dune" books by Frank Herbert start chapters with quotations from various sources. All the sources are fake

The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde do the same thing.
posted by entropyiswinning at 11:35 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Steven Brust's Khaavren Romances. They're fake history with fake references. Like a fantasy version of the Three Musketeers.
posted by irisclara at 12:17 PM on September 6, 2015


Borges has already been mentioned a bunch, but specifically regarding the "Author of the Quixote" story, I think the actual Don Quixote might apply here too, in some sense. The whole thing kind of ends up being like a footnote to itself.

Pale Fire has already been mentioned too, but Nabokov's Ada or Ardor might also work: it takes place on an anti-earth with parallel but slightly different history, and one of the subplots is a character doing lots of research into "our" Earth, with fake resources and scholars.
posted by bugperson at 3:37 PM on September 6, 2015




The Flashman series (which don't have to be read sequentially, btw) would qualify.
posted by infodiva at 10:57 PM on September 6, 2015


seem to recall Special Topics in Calamity Physics contained an impressive amount of fake sources and quotations (at least I think they were fake).
posted by mirileh at 11:02 PM on September 6, 2015


The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin references extensively a fictional text about anarchism. There are quite a few more examples from SciFi - if I have time later I'll post more.
posted by Cygnet at 3:47 AM on September 7, 2015


Jonathan Coe's The House of Sleep has a running joke throughout, to which you get the (very long) punchline in the form of a significantly footnoted article near the end.
posted by glasseyes at 4:34 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin references extensively a fictional text about anarchism. There are quite a few more examples from SciFi - if I have time later I'll post more.

Le Guin's Always Coming Home is probably the book where she takes this the furthest. Wikipedia calls it "Part novel, part textbook, part anthropologist's record," which seems accurate to me -- it is fiction, but written more as an ethnography.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:02 AM on September 7, 2015


Of course the masters of false attribution are Borges and Nabokov (in Pale Fire), as others have mentioned, but allow me to introduce a lesser-known but erratically brilliant author, R.A. Lafferty. His stories and novels are full of quotes from non-existent books, such as Arpad Arutinov's "The Back Door of History".
posted by Agave at 7:01 AM on September 7, 2015


The appendix of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love is a fake case report from a made-up psychiatric journal - it reportedly fooled some critics and actual psychiatrists.
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:51 AM on September 7, 2015


Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves
posted by Neeuq Nus at 3:51 PM on September 7, 2015


Sunburnt: "The "Dune" books by Frank Herbert start chapters with quotations from various sources. All the sources are fake (e.g. the Orange Catholic Bible, which is the common bible commonly found in the Dune universe some 10,000 years in the future from us), but some of the quotations are real, like this one (via Wikiquote)"

In a similar vein, The Dune Encyclopedia's entries extensively cite fictional in-universe scholars and works.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe not what you have in mind, but the Lord of the Rings has this feature.
posted by alms at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2015


Came in to say An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin but was beaten to it (darn you, lepus!), so I shall add some links instead:

Funerary Violin at Wikipedia
Funerary Violin at NPR (includes an excerpt)
Introduction at the official web site; a brief skim suggests this is the same as the introduction in the book. A brief example: "Until a number of recent discoveries (such as the Hildesheim trunk, the writings of Charles Sudbury and the Chichester Suites etc.) there was little solid evidence that such a rich tradition had existed at all."

The sources aren't in footnotes or endnotes, though; they're scattered throughout the text.
posted by kristi at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2015


The Club Dumas
posted by garry.smith at 10:01 PM on September 10, 2015


Jane Yolen's Great Alta saga mixes invented history, mythology, and folk traditions (with accompanying commentaries) with the narrative itself.
posted by earth by april at 4:03 PM on September 14, 2015


Dictionary of the Khazars is nominally three encylopedias on the conversion of the Khazars but is actually total fiction.
posted by Copronymus at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2015


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