Who hasn’t had a nifty idea for a scene or a dialogue in a story and been put off by having to surround it with context? In a lot of ways the story is better when it’s locked up in your head, perfect and unspoiled by the need to put everything in a neat and tidy order.

That’s the idea here, to take an old writing exercise of mine and put it to work. Each entry is a short excerpt from a book that doesn’t exist, just enough to give a sense of the larger work lurking in the shadows. I used to fill notebooks with these things, and the best ones always developed into something else, either by inspiring me or the people who read them to fill in the gaps.

I can’t claim the idea is mine; it was partially inspired by The Catalog of Lost Books by Tad Tuleja, an annotated list of great books that all have the notable handicap of nonexistence. The title is similarly lifted from the name of Danny Elfman’s concert piece Overture to a Nonexistent Musical. And, although I hadn’t read any of his work when I started this project, Jorge Luis Borges and his “summaries of books that do not exist” is apparently a kindred spirit in this endeavor.