Thursday, December 20, 2007

Best Overlooked Fiction

Here's our alternative best of list, a collaborative list of great fiction we're sad more people don't know about! Title listings are alphabetical by author's last name, and the "reviewer" is listed after each nominee. Thanks, everybody who contributed.

If you're reading this post and have a suggestion, please feel free to add it in the comments. I'll link this list in my sidebar and will update every time someone adds a title. I'm kind of tempted to add more myself.


Arnold, Elizabeth Joy. PIECES OF MY SISTER'S LIFE. The novel tells the story of identical twins growing up on Block Island, their estrangement as children and eventual reconciliation when one learns the other is dying of ovarian cancer. It was a beautifully written book about the unique bond between twins, and one of those few novels I couldn't put down.--JessicaG

Donati, Sarah. INTO THE WILDERNESS. I read it thinking it was a fanfiction knockoff of the Last of the Mohicans movie. And true, it has a few of those elements, but it's full of greatness and win. The main character, Elizabeth, is a strong willed 'bluestocking' and is definitely her own person. She runs the story and ultimately sets into action a chain of events in a small town on the frontier by doing what she wants instead of what everyone else wants. It's a huge doorstopper of a book but it's also utterly breathtaking, and Donati's language is amazing. I've easily read this a dozen times and I'm tempted to read it again this weekend just thinking about it.--Jill Myles

Ducornet Rikki. GAZELLE and THE FANMAKER'S INQUISITION. Both excellent. She's well known in some circles but deserves much wider readership for her characterizations of women and of historical figures.--Kaytie M. Lee


Findley, Timothy. THE WARS. A really special treatment of WWI and the soldier experience (and its aftermath). This book is practically required reading in Canada but isn't even in print in the US.--moonrat

Gover, Robert. THE MANIAC RESPONSIBLE. If you like 60s gonzo literature with a sinister crime flare and a protagonist who is as funny as he is scary, I can't recommend it enough. It's one of my favorite books, and no one's ever heard of it.--Rachel

Greenburg, Seth. THE BONE. Too funny.--Anonymous

James, Marlon. JOHN CROW'S DEVIL. You can read it at its surface as a literary horror story, but getting into the many levels he managed to weave in (mixing my metaphors, sorry) brings out social commentary about the role of religion in communities. It has been the kind of book I think about when I'm not reading it.--Kaytie M. Lee

Quinn, Daniel. ISHMAEL. One of my favorite books ever. Basically a conduit for Quinn's ideas of the world and our responsibility as humans to the world. Which, btw, blew my little 7th grade mind away when I read it.--angelle

Sloan, Bob. BEARSKIN TO HOLLY FORK. Brilliant.--Wayne


Josephine Damian said...

Moon, in case you did not see my reply on my blog, here's a reprint:

Moonie, it was a big struggle for me switching from screenplays to novels, and what I got out of my group early on was deadlines and blunt criticism, which I badly needed. Then this new guy took over the group, and the whole tone and purpose changed - nit wittery abounding, and I stopped going.

Even though that guy eventually dropped dead, the group continued as a "puff-club" - so I only returned long enough to see it was a waste of time.

My guess, any NYC group has got to be more savvy than a FL group, and you should sit in a few times, get a feel for how things works, for what kind of group - helpful, hurtful, or a waste of time - before you actually read anything to them.

Some interesting choices listed here. My TBR list is expanding.

moonrat said...

thanks, JD. i'm a little concerned that you think higher of new yorkers than we deserve ;) but i think even if all i got was pressure to produce and blunt criticism i would still be profiting. in fact, i'm sure i would. that is exactly what i need.

Anonymous said...

the bone by seth greenberg -- too funny

Carmela Ciuraru said...

I must add to this list EXERCISES IN STYLE by Raymond Queneau. It carries the notion of "experimental fiction" to new heights. Genius! One of my favorite books ever, published by New Directions (English translation, from French) and a bit hard to find.

Charlotte Cook said...

My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin ... a cross between Gone With the Wind and Pride and Prejudice and overlooked as well for just being an amazingly good read about women in modern China. Great reviews, constantly sells and I just can't bring to it the attention it deserves. Yes, I am the publisher and the primary editor and even before this stall in retail sales occured it seems that great books from emerging publishers brought us whispers but not real supporters who could bring this single important book to the forefront.

Henri said...

Try reading "You Can't Win" by Jack Black. It's the incredible true account of a cat burglar in the the days just before the automobile came on the scene and folks had to travel around the country by rail. The book's a classic and also the favorite book of William Burroughs. Can't go wrong by reading this little gem.