Monday, May 6, 2013


In a previous post (“Art as a Job,” Thursday, February 28, 2013),  I did a quick survey of some of the world’s most prolific novelists. Shelf-fillers Georges Simenon and John Creasey came in for honorable mentions, along with Isaac Asimov and R. L. Stine.

Somehow I missed the Guinness-certified record holder for most published titles, a Brazilian pulpmeister known as Ryoki Inoue. In fact, according to a 1986 Wall Street Journal profile,“When the Guinness Book of World Records recently affirmed Mr. Inoue's No. 1 ranking in titles published, the award certificate was already 15 books out-of-date by the time it arrived from England.”

How fast can Inoue write (yes, he’s still at it)? Again to quote the Journal, “He has churned out complete chapters during trips to the bathroom; a whole book while having his truck worked on in a garage; a novel and its sequel in an afternoon on the beach.”

Ryoki Inoue
When the WSJ story was published in 1996, Inoue had published 1,039 books—under his own name and 39 pseudonyms. “Mr. Inoue writes books faster than 10 Brazilian pulp presses combined are able to publish them. ‘Brazil hasn't yet developed the capacity to absorb me,’ says the pipe-smoking 49-year-old author, whose father was Japanese and mother was Portuguese.”

The secret of Inoue’s prodigious output? Prodigious work. The  same secret practiced on a daily basis by all phenomenally successful writers.

Inoue reckons the creative process as “98% sweat, 1% talent and 1% luck." He has been known to finish a 200-page story—bang-bang westerns are his favorites—at a single sitting. (I assume  brief breaks, unless he’s catheterized.)

Isaac Asimov
I mentioned in that earlier post that the late Isaac Asimov could write about as fast as he typed, which for him was 80 words a minute. Inoue may write even faster. According to one testimonial on his website, “Many people cannot read at the same speed that he writes.”

He is singlehandedly feeding hundreds of thousands of Brazilian readers--with a literary diet heavily weighted toward Westerns. A favorite by-line is "Tex Taylor." On his travels, Inoue, himself, has not been much farther into the American west than the West Side of Newark, NJ.

I'm reminded of Karl May--“a [German] adventure writer from the late nineteenth century
Karl May
whom most Americans have never heard of but whose stories of the American West are to this day better known to Germans than the works of Thomas Mann. His books have sold more than a hundred million copies.” ("Why do cowboys and Indians so captivate the country?" by Rivka Galchen. New Yorker, April 9, 2012 

Among Karl May's hordes of youthful admirers were two boys destined to change the world--Adolf Hitler and Albert Einstein.

No comments:

Post a Comment