Echo’s Bones is the one story that didn’t make it into Samuel Beckett’s collection More Pricks Than Kicks. Beckett’s publisher, Charles Prentice at Chatto & Windus, said the 13,500-word story was “too difficult and strange.” (As opposed to, say, The Smeraldina’s Billet Doux? But anyway.) The rejected Echo’s Bones has languished in the archives ever since 1934, when it missed the cut. Now it’s available as a stand-alone work. Published earlier this year in Britain, the US Kindle version came out July 2.
The protagonist of the fantastical story is Belacqua (also featured in the story Yellow, in More Pricks Than Kicks). In Echo’s Bones, Belacqua dies in the hospital after surgery and faces an afterlife. In 1933, Beckett underwent two surgeries: one for a hammer toe, the other for a weeping cyst. He survived, unlike his protagonist, and in the days thereafter, as attested to in his famous quote, “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” Except for the Nobel Prize. That was new–Beckett won the Nobel for Literature in 1969.