Lost Last Unicorn Love

Book #3 – The Last Unicorn: The Lost Version by Peter S. Beagle

The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite books. 

The animated movie version came out when I was seven at the height of my unicorn/horse phase.  I would have immediately read the book if any library in Omaha had carried it, or if I could have found it at any local bookstore.  This was long before Amazon.com.  I finally came across the book as a freshman in college.  I was pleased to find, at age 18, that the book was deeper than the movie.  Still a fairy tale, but with characters that I could appreciate as an adult, and it’s only in my thirties that I’ve truly begun to understand the cruelty of Schmendrick’s curse (he’ll never age…until he becomes a competent magician).

As a writer, The Lost Version is interesting. It presents Peter S. Beagle’s first go at the story.  Not exactly a first draft, but a first start.  There are characters and situations (even whole paragraphs) that ended up in the eventually published version, but much of it wasn’t retained. It’s a rare look at how a writer started writing a novel one way, realized that it wasn’t going work, chopped it to bits, and started again. Personally, I’d love to see the demons Azazel and Webster be given their own novel, though it would have to change and grow as much as the unicorn’s story kernel did.

Interesting note in a “me too” kind of way, Beagle writes:

No matter how snappy the dialogue, how darkly evocative the atmosphere, if you listen closely enough you can definitely make out the sound of tap-dancing. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, so I was stalling, hiding in facility, using tricksy craft to cover lack of focus and uncertainty of direction.

3 thoughts on “Lost Last Unicorn Love

  1. half_imagined

    I’ve never read The Last Unicorn, but as someone who’s extremely interested in other peoples’ writing processes, I think I’ll be checking out The Lost Version.

    As someone who has read both the polished book and The Lost Version, would you recommend reading both? Or is The Lost Version set up so it can be read just on its own?

    Reply
    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      You’d probably get the most out of it by reading both. If you only read The Lost Version, only the forward and the afterward will be particularly interesting. It might be hard to find The Lost Version. It was put out as a special edition by a small press. Surprisingly, my library had it–a signed, numbered copy!

      Reply
      1. connorfc

        Availability

        The material from THE LAST UNICORN: THE LOST VERSION will be surfacing again — along with a lot of other things from Peter’s filing cabinet, such as the four chapters removed from A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE prior to first publication — in a Conlan Press hardcover collection entitled THE FIRST LAST UNICORN AND OTHER BEGINNINGS. We hope to have it out before the end of the year.

        — Connor Cochran
        Business Manager for Peter S. Beagle

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