Forensic experts recover novel written by blind woman with a pen that had run out of ink


Originally published at:


It took 5 months to lightly rub a pencil on the pages?


I believe the word we are looking for is “palimpsest”?


And/or hold the pages at an angle to the light…



She died the day it was published? So sad.


Kinda like a palimpsest, though that’s technically a text that’s been erased, and possibly still faintly visible. If I understand correctly.

Most amusing use of that word was the movie Name of the Rose, which said in the opening creds that it was a palimpsest of the novel by Umberto Eco. I have been thinking about that recently, because I’m reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman and thinking that, similarly, the TV series is a palimpsest of the trilogy. Both are good, but different things, though you can definitely see traces of the novels even when the narrative in the show is quite different.

In the days since I pondered about that, the word has popped up several times. Funny how that works.


May not have been so simple to decipher impressions if she wrote in a notebook.

Each side of a leaf of paper could have:

  • Primary indentations of her writing (inscribing) on that page,
  • Reverse impression of her writing on the opposite side,
  • Latent impression of writing 2 pages prior - before flipping to current page
  • Latent impression of writing 2 pages after - after flipping from current page


Eh. If about a hundred vaguely notable things happen to each person each day, then you should notice one-in-a-million coincidences at a rate of about one every two years, and there’s going to be about one million one-in-a-million coincidences randomly occurring and getting noticed every day.

If “about a hundred” is a low number for the things that we, either consciously or subconsciously, take notice of in a day (I think it’s probably a very low number, but have no data to back that up), then they’ll be even more frequent than that.


So it only took them five months to recover a week’s worth of work?


Cf, the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon.


…AND they may have had some crimes to work on in the meantime and limited spare/personal time. Perhaps a bit less of the gift-horse mouth examination snark - this is a heart-warming story of public servants doing something charitable and way beyond the call of duty out of the goodness of their own hearts and on their own dollar. They could have done nothing, or just given the name of private forensic services, and even that would have been a good thing for them to do. I don’t think five months is the point here.

At least when the police were called they didn’t send a SWAT team to storm the place in the expectation of finding a heinous ink-thief - which may have happened in some other jurisdictions :wink:

ETA “less of the snark” not meant nastily and aimed at all the commenters on “5 months” and not at kpkpkp specifically


If you think this was a challenge just consider the poor saps who were tasked with recovering an audiobook from a tape recorder that had run out of batteries.


…after which she read it and said, “bah, this is no good, I need to do a complete rewrite.”


something something, indentations in the glass windows of the room the sound occurred in…


And, five months later… they recovered the never-written words.

“It was the best of times, it was the BLURST OF TIMES”?!


Not the plot twist I was expecting. :frowning:


Furthermore, as Sir Pterry pointed out, million-to-one chances always work.


Wait. I’m still trying to figure out how she kept within the lines on the page. I can barely do that and I can see.


Nine times out of ten.