Arts, Books, Film

Should Unfinished Works by Deceased Artists be Completed?

In the wake of the passing of the legendary writer Jim Harrison I ask: Should his unfinished works be completed by another writer? Or be released unfinished?

Jim Harrison in February 2008.  Jim Harrison

I lost a fellow writer in my circle who’d left several unfinished works behind. Family members made mention of finishing them and seeking publication. To my knowledge, nothing came of this. And I wasn’t sure how I would have felt about seeing his work altered or added to by someone else. Would it still be his?

I saw a television piece on Unfinished Works by authors Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming, and Jane Austen. When passersby were polled, they responded that they’d rather have the unfinished piece of work than seeing it completed by someone other than the original artist. And I agree.


   Charles Dickens


Ian Fleming

Jane Austen

This is not to be confused with the co-writing of mainstream authors with others such as James Patterson and Janet Evanovich. Those authors are hands-on, with final say over the finished works. That is also not the same as when a copyright expires and the work becomes public domain. Ian Fleming’s James Bond continues to live through the pens of other authors, but they must meet the strict requirements of the agent of Fleming’s estate to maintain the integrity of the character.

Did you know that the face of George Washington on U.S. One Dollar note was an unfinished work?

But I think the important portion was already completed by the artist. It wouldn’t matter if someone else filled in the coat and backdrop.

I think unfinished work should remain that way if the artist has left the building. I wouldn’t want anyone finishing mine.


For more on Jim Harrison:



W.T.F. – Smarter than Silly

You never know what you’ll get with a Tina Fey film. Could be risky. It might be too silly or raunchy to be worth the time. So, I saw this hoping it wouldn’t take a wrong turn, and was pleasantly surprised. They kept it straight by surrounding Fey’s Clueless Kim with smarter characters in-the-know.

Kim has no experience as a field journalist when she’s pressured into an assignment in Afghanistan. Off the plane, she’s as lost as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and I worried that a couple of her bone-headed moves might send the plot down Cheap Laugh Lane. It did not. After a rocky start, Kim learns fast with a lot of help from a sympathetic General (Billy Bob Thornton), a local fixer/translator who protects her from her American ignorance, and a couple of fellow reporters (Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie) who have become addicted to the adrenaline-filled lifestyle.

Kim adopts a “When in Rome” attitude to fit into the booze-soaked nightly ritual of her peers.  Even though a situation or two wouldn’t have occurred in real life, Kim manages to wise up and earn a little respect out of sheer tenacity, proving that a woman can step out of her comfort zone and survive in spite of being dealt a lousy hand.

I love when a film exceeds my expectations. This is one of Fey’s better performances and worth a look.


Day in the life

In Search of a Tribe?

“I try to talk to people, but they reject me.”

The young man looked like a regular guy to me. What I think he wanted was a tribe.

The world is a big place and much easier to navigate with a support system.But if you are emotionally distressed, you’ll probably attract others who are the same. Like does attract like.  If you are struggling with something you don’t like about yourself, do something to change it, or you’ll attract a dysfunctional tribe. Probably not what you were expecting when you set out to find your people.

Only you are responsible for your happiness. Friends, partners, and pets are not. they might be able to make you feel good temporarily, but they can’t change how you think about yourself or how you behave. You alone are responsible.

In my younger days, I was perceived as unapproachable. I didn’t smile easily and always seemed to have my guard up. I wasn’t even conscious of it, and spent a few years very lonely. I kept to myself and didn’t actively engage with many people outside my workplace. Eventually, I realized that only I could change my solitude, and I made the conscious decision to force myself to smile more and speak to people out in the world even though I hated small talk.

I’ve never needed a great number of friends, but a handful of trustworthy people who were on the same page and available to offer company and support. I’m available for my friends, even if the only recent contact has been an occasional greeting card. I joined a couple professional associations, but those are often populated by acquaintances instead of genuine friends. Lately, I’ve found other tribes to join online. People who share my unconventional interests.

Volunteering for causes or events that intrigue you is a great way to meet new people. Joining organizations specific to your profession and extracurricular interests.

Joining organizations specific to your profession and extracurricular interests can net a group where you might find a couple close companions.

Moderated Social media groups, chat rooms, or bulletin boards online can be a great way to commune with people of like-mind.

But the trick to having a tribe is being a contributing member who brings something to the table. If you don’t feel you have anything to offer, examine your strengths. Everyone has something of value to add.

Your tribe doesn’t have to be large or even nearby to give you the social connection you might be craving. Even if you’re a loner, at some point, you might long to talk with someone with whom you share an interest. Doesn’t mean you have to become a joiner, just open to sharing a piece of yourself or a point of view.

Relationships are a two-way street. Be willing to give as well as receive. Most importantly, show up.