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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho stared at the man-made lake in front of him, which was in a university campus next to a shopping mall. Within the mall, was a large bookstore. In order to let a group of people through, Juho stepped aside. In their hands, were paper bags with the bookstore’s logo printed on it. The black cover peeking through the opening caught Juho’s eyes. It was his novel, ‘Sublimation,’ and he had heard from Nam Kyung that the number of copies sold had reached three hundred fifty thousand in just four days.
“Man, It’s cold out,” Juho murmured as he sat down on a bench in front of the lake. The coldness seeped in through his pants. The benches were all empty, and he was the only person sitting on one. However, there were a couple of people, who appeared to be siblings, talking just a few steps away.
“That’s a goose.”
“No, that’s a duck!”
The two argued while looking at a bird swimming around the edges of the lake. The way Juho saw it, it looked more like a swan, which was in the same family as the duck. In other words, it was closer to being a duck than it was a goose. However, there was no solid evidence that would prove his observation, which meant that nobody at the lake knew what kind of bird they were looking at. Simply, each thought of it according to what they saw.
“It’s a goose! Just look at the beak.”
“Ducks are the only kinds of bird that would still be around in the winter. I learned it at school.”
“How does that make any sense?”
“I’m serious! That’s what my teacher said!”
Shallow evidence only got in the way of an argument, and the two went on for a long time, all without even properly backing up their claims. Perhaps the accuracy of the information wasn’t quite a matter of concern. If anything, it seemed like one of the parties was getting a kick out of bickering with the other person, not letting up despite knowing that the other person was right. In actuality, the child who appeared to be the younger brother had a mischievous look about him. Then, as a woman, who seemed to be their mother, appeared with her hands full of things, the two left the lake, leaving Juho as the only person around the lake.
After staring into the lake absentmindedly for a little while, Juho reached for his bag, took his laptop out, and logged into a search engine. Although his hands were sluggish from being nearly frozen, it was hardly an issue for him since the word ‘Sublimation’ was among the most searched words on the internet. He had access to the opinions of his readers at the tip of his fingers, including articles with provocative titles, comments, ratings, and reviews. Looking at the tiny screen filled with numerous opinions, Juho read through them slowly, one by one, being attentive to each and every one of them, especially of the criticisms toward his book. He was able to peek at the hearts of those interpreting his book to his heart’s content. He read on until he reached the limits those people had set, perhaps even going beyond them.
At that moment, a wind blew against his face, and his eyes tingled from the cold while the light reflected from the water burned them as fire would.
An outstanding piece of writing. Favorable reviews from the critics. Praises that far surpassed the reviews of the critics. Questions. A touch of controversy. Selling out in realtime. A proud author. Genius. Skills hard to believe. Limits broken by the author. The identity that came to him by coincidence. Yun Woo. Yun Woo.
A voice called for him, but Juho soon realized that it had just been his imagination, an illusion molded from the remnants of clay left on the ground.
“Yun Woo. Yun Woo. Yun Woo.”
That time, a chant sounded. A series of voices called out to him emphatically, shaking the ground and the air above it. As Juho absorbed and embraced the sound, the crowd shouted with joy.
“Yun Woo, you’re a genius!” a person shouted from the frontmost row. Juho was standing on the stage in the concert hall where they had held the book concert some time before. The spotlights came on, and Juho was sitting alone on a chair set up on the stage, interacting with three hundred people in the audience.
“Thank you,” Juho let out briefly and covered his mouth with his hands.
“My son really liked this book. He hates reading, but he just can’t seem to get enough of this book. He told me that it’s like reading a detective novel.”
“Yeah, my daughter only reads horror or thriller novels, but she reads this book nonstop.”
Then, Juho looked quietly to the other side of the audience, from where he also heard a series of voices. Except, they were slightly more rigid and emphatic.
“Fire, God, and humans. The way you unfolded each of their significances was very interesting. The lives of the firefighters were quite accurate, as well.”
“The emotional description of each of the characters was also spot on. It wasn’t too much or so subtle that it felt either uncomfortable or boring. You’ve done well staying within the flow of the plot.”
“The scene where the characters begin to doubt each other was portrayed quite effectively. With the fire in the center, other characters continue to experience conflict with each other, and the way you utilized the narrator really stood out. As long as we pay attention to how he’s feeling, we don’t have to worry about getting lost amid all the riddles.”
“As always, Yun Woo’s sentences were beautifully constructed. It was very colorful, yet controlled. It really brought out the pain of slowly falling apart from within.”
Everyone in the audience agreed, and they exploded into applause. However, the reviews were yet to come to an end.
“Your debut title had a strong, hopeful image of overcoming darkness, but the pieces that followed after it all die away in it. There are characters who are swayed by the people around them and their circumstances, and every one of those events is utilized as a tool for providing evidence of hope. The child-like purity of your style really brings that out.”
Then, another voice interjected.
“You excel at describing the experience of death. It was as if you had actually died once. That kind of portrayal written by a teenage author can only be described as talent.”
“As well as solitude and loneliness.”
“Same goes for goodbyes and pains.”
“You’re an author who’s well acquainted with taking away the wings from the characters within your novels.”
“At the same time, you’re skilled in reminding the readers of the fact that they had wings to begin with.”
“As always, outstanding.”
“Who else is capable of writing pieces of such literary value?”
“The weight your writing carries supersedes your age.”
Endless praise flowed out from the dark, intoxicated by the author by the name of Yun Woo.
An emphatic word put an end to them all. A commotion broke out within the shadows, and the audience members began to look around themselves. Then, a hand popped out of the shadows. It was an attempt to obtain the right to speak. At that, Juho nodded as a gesture of confirmation.
“What was with that ending?” the member of the audience asked in a shaky voice, sounding either angry or ecstatic. Either way, the hand was quite worked up.
At which point, Juho answered in a calm tone of voice, “As you said, it’s an ending.”
Then, the member of the audience shook their head in denial.
“No, no. That’s not what I’m asking. What I’m asking is what was that ending ABOUT?” the audience member said with threatening gestures, as if they would take the young author by his collar.
After a brief pause, Juho asked, “Was it not to your liking?”
“No, that’s not what this is about. This is an event. The end of Yun Woo’s ‘Sublimation,’ is the event. The inner beings of the characters mix into one, single concoction, and it changes everything, while the traditional structure of a novel gradually falls apart. It takes a serious amount of skill in order to make the most out of a scene like that, and you’ve done it. But there is something that I just can’t seem to understand.”
“And what is that?” the author asked from the stage, and the hand answered without a delay.
“Why were you in the novel?” the member of the audience asked, his voice reverberating throughout the hall while the spotlights shook.
“In a scene where people were deprived of their names and their very existences, why were you part of that scene? You’re the author, aren’t you?”
The sharp, poignant hand pointed toward the stage, and blue veins became visible from it.
“Also, what was with that writing style?”
The blue veins began to analyze the novel.
“It was anything but pure. It wasn’t colorful, nor was it controlled. That was very unlike Yun Woo and detached from the beautiful sentences I’ve seen up to this point. Only the end was different.”
Juho stared intently at the member in the audience whose hand was shaking uncontrollably.
“I don’t think it was written by Yun Woo. I don’t think that you hired another author to write on your behalf, either. There’s no denying the fact that you wrote those sentences, but they couldn’t possibly have come out of you.”
The audience member started to grow antsy with curiosity and uncertainty, and as a response, Juho asked, “What would you like for me to do for you?”
“I’d like to look into your mind. There has to exist yet another version of you in there,” the audience member said, waving his hand as if trying to grab something.
“I want to meet him in person, and I want to see more of him, for a while longer. I want to pick apart and analyze the version of you that is completely devoid of color or control,” the audience member said and waited for the author’s answer. However, the stage had sunk into silence, and Yun Woo didn’t say a word. At that moment…
… a voice called to the young author. At which point, there was yet another round of chanting. The entire hall vibrated, and some even stomped their feet.
“‘Sublimation’ is an amazing book!”
“There is no such things as a limit for Yun Woo!”
“The ending of ‘Sublimation’ will mark a new era in literary history!”
With that, Juho closed his laptop. A wind blew in his direction once again, and what was either a duck, a goose, or a swan was swimming away from Juho, toward the opposite side of the lake, and Juho simply stared at it absentmindedly.
“It’s cold out,” Juho said as he rose from the bench. His body felt stiff, and his toes in his shoes had grown numb. Then, a sound came from behind him. There were a couple of people walking in his direction with a paper bag with the logo of the bookstore Juho had been in on it.
“Man, I freakin’ love Yun Woo.”
“Actually, I’m Yun Woo.”
Until their voices grew faint, Juho stood still in his place.
“Yun Woo Comes Back with New Book! A Closer Look at the Controversial Piece, ‘Sublimation.'”
“Yun Woo Blows It Out of the Water Yet Again! What Are His Limits?”
“Yun Woo Receives International Attention. The World Expresses Interest in the Fans’ Reactions in Korea.”
“Is It a Burnt Down House? Is It a Crow? Yun Woo Participates in Designing the Cover of His Most Recent Novel, ‘Sublimation,’ AKA ‘The Black Book.’ The Web Grows Wild with Theories. The True Significance Behind the Cover Design?”
“A Reported Controversy Among Critics. The Meaning Behind the Ending of ‘Sublimation.'”
“What’s Yun Woo Implying in the Ending of ‘Sublimation?’ Fans Coming Up with Polarizing Opinions.”
“‘It’s Not the Content of the Ending That’s the Issue?’ Critics Address Issues with Yun Woo’s Recent Novel, ‘Sublimation.'”
“Pyung Jin Lee, the Celebrity Critic Speaks! ‘There Will Never Be Another Yun Woo. I Won’t Dare to Critique ‘Sublimation,’ but Simply, Read It.'”
“Artistic and Appealing to the Masses, Yun Woo Catches Two Birds with One Stone! Downfall is a Luxury for Yun Woo.”
“Yun Woo’s Recent Novel, ‘Sublimation,’ Not a Detective Novel? Who is Yun Woo According to the Fans?”
“What is this? Oh, my! Is this author seriously crazy or what? Has everyone read his most recent novel?”
“It’s just as the title suggests. It’s Yun Woo’s sublimation. This novel proved to me that the next most useless thing to worry about aside from celebrities is about Yun Woo.”
“He’s a tank. I’ll give him that. He was chosen as a candidate for the Annular Award, yet he writes a novel like ‘Sublimation.’ If I were in his shoes, I’d just disappear from the face of the Earth for a while.”
“Same here. I’d be gone for like five years.”
“Ten years, for me.”
“Personally, out of all of his novels so far, I love ‘Sublimation’ the most. The suspense is just so intense!”
“I agree. It’s super immersive and readable. It has to be the most appealing novel he’s ever written.”
“I, on the other hand, think that it had the highest literary value of all of his other novels. The chaos really hit me hard. I thought it was gonna be a story about another person’s life and growth, but boy was I wrong. I got chills at the end.”
“That was seriously insane! When everything goes haywire, and the perspective deviates from the narrator? Oh, man! The thrill!”
“There are so many controversies surrounding the ending of that book. The critics keep raving about writing style or whatever, but it all just goes over my head. What I can tell you is that I got such bad goosebumps from the ending that I almost turned into a chicken.”
“Are the critics not liking the book? Are they talking trash?”
“The writing style changes in the end, apparently out of nowhere. That must be what makes it so difficult.”
“It’s not difficult. It’s impossible. There are theories about Yun Woo having a split personality or hiring a ghostwriter because of the ending, where not only the sentence structure changes completely, but the writing itself also flips upside down as if written by another person. Writing tends to have a trace of the author’s habits or feelings, but none of that exists in the end of ‘Sublimation.’ In other words, it feels like another person wrote that part for him. Think about it! Unless he has split personality or hired a ghostwriter, this is impossible to pull off. The fact that it matches the ending of the novel doesn’t really seem to help, either.”
“There’s something scary about that. Does it have anything to do with Yun Woo being a genius?”
“Isn’t it because he was super into writing it?”
“He had to have been really intentional since it was the piece following ‘River.'”
“I’m sure he was, considering how he was even part of the cover’s design process. The publisher really pushed for that, too.”
“It might be he’s just being himself: Yun Woo.”
“It’s incredible, even for Yun Woo.”
“It’s incredible BECAUSE it’s Yun Woo.”
“He’s already anonymous, but now that he’s written a novel like this, the curiosity is driving me nuts! Don’t quote me on this, but I have a feeling that it’s something similar to what he’s actually going through. I mean, people associate him with all sorts of images. On top of that, he debuted when he was sixteen, so it might have had the right impact at just the right time.”
“That sounds legit.”
“So, I guess that means it’s a novel only Yun Woo can pull off.”
“Yun Woo. Yun Woo. Yun Woo.”
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