Pulp.Net advertises itself as “a webspace that feels like a book.” One of its regular features is “Top 10,” in which writers respond to questions such as “What’s the best short story I’ve ever read?” and “Favorite bookshop?” There’s usually one related to neglected books. Here are the responses so far.

Joe Ambrose

Most overlooked novel
City of Night by John Rechy. Once very famous/influential, now largely forgotten, novel concerning rent boys in metropolitan America. Rechy had some bad publicity a few months back when he got caught reviewing his own books on Amazon. There was a great chattering classes debate. At least it got his name into circulation again.

David Belbin

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
Stanley Middleton’s Harris’s Requiem is the best novel about music I’ve read, and I’ve read a few. It’s been out of print thirty years, but is reissued by Trent Editions in 2006. I’ve just finished writing the introduction.

My favourite novelist that no-one else seems to have heard of
I discovered Geoff Nicholson, a Sheffield born novelist now living in the US, in Ambit magazine. He writes twisted, surreal, silly, story driven, comic novels. Try Everything And More or The Knot Garden.

Nicholas Blincoe

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards.

Myra Connell

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
I tend to keep myself to myself a lot and not find out what is current and what not. But one I have read lately that might come into this category is Conversations in Bolzano by Hungarian writer Sandor Marai, who also wrote Embers. This one was translated by George Szirtes, a poet from Hungary. It is great that a poet could translate this, because the language is incredibly beautiful and rich. Much of the book is in the form of monologues by one or other of the central characters, and I found it spellbinding.

The book I’d most like to reread, if I could find it again
As I was reading Conversations in Bolzano (see above), I kept thinking, ‘I must start this again as soon as I have finished it’. I haven’t done yet, but I am still hoping to.

Lisa D’Onofrio

Most overlooked/underrated novels
Many Australian books are overlooked over in the UK. There is still a real snobbishness about ‘literature’ in England, which frustrates me deeply. Work by any one other than the English has a tendency to get ignored, especially in taught courses. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail is excellent, as is Joan Makes History by Kate Grenville. The Prince by Tim Richards (about the annual festival of killing that takes place in a Melbourne suburb) is superb, as are his short stories. The Dorothys Hewett and Porter produce innovative stuff … and I haven’t even touched on any Canadian or Indian authors.

Bernadine Evaristo

Most overlooked novel
All That Blue by Gaston Paul Effa (BlackAmber Press) is a work of art.

Patrick Gale

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
Tom Wakefield’s War Paint – a beguilingly subversive drag version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Would make a wonderful film vehicle for Lily Savage.

Daphne Glazer

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
Living by Henry Green.

A.L. Kennedy

Most overlooked/underrated novels
A Trail of Heart’s Blood Wherever We Go by Robert Olmstead, Natural History by Joan Perucho, Chromos by Felipe Alfau

Alison MacLeod

My favourite writer that no-one else seems to have heard of
If they’ve heard of her, they’ve rarely read her. Mary Webb’s two novels Gone to Earth (1916) and Precious Bane (1924) are both set against the landscapes of Shropshire. Her writing is lyrical, earthy, urgent, poignant. (Why use one adjective when four will do?) It’s Hardyesque but there’s something even more elemental going on.

Alan Mahar

Most overlooked/underrated novels
So glad America rediscovered Paula Fox. Her Desperate Characters has a bite and an all-seeing eye. I’ve been catching up on her other tight, wise novels. The Widow’s Children is painful with seedy perceptiveness. I still don’t understand how I didn’t spot her at the time; same with Nick Drake. Blush again.

Clare Morrall

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
The Underground Man by Mick Jackson. It was shortlisted for the Booker a few years ago. I spend a lot of time persuading people to read it because it’s a fascinating and original book.

Dorothy Schwartz

Most overlooked and underappreciated author
Henry Green, author of Living. He wrote a handful of novels using amazing technique and his own syntax. When a Green fan meets another it’s what I imagine a Freemason feels.

Rachel Seiffert

Most overlooked/underrated novels
Aleksandar Hemon’s Nowhere Man. I know he is much praised by critics, but I don’t think he’s had nearly the popular success he deserves. His concerns are very current: illegal immigration, the fallout from the recent Balkan wars, and his writing is just brilliant. He manages to be nostalgic and cynical at the same time, and has a very dry wit. His short stories are great, too.

Buket Uzuner

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary.

Louise Welch

My favourite novel that no-one else seems to have heard of
I’m sure lots of folk must have read Vladimir Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, but no one I’ve ever mentioned it to has. It’s a brilliant detective novel, an exploration of memoir, memory, identity and the art of fiction. Sebastian is a writer and, while I recognise it can be a failure of imagination to simply write about writers, I like books about my profession as much as plumbers, nurses, sales assistants probably enjoy books about theirs. Sebastian’s brother finds part of a short story on his desk. “As he a heavy sleeper, Roger Rogerson, old Rogerson bought old Rogers bought, so afraid Being a heavy sleeper, old Rogers was so afraid of missing tomorrows.” A great evocation of the writer’s craft.

Book I’d most like to reread if I could find it again
Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Daniel P. Mannix. Reminiscences of travels with a North America carney show sometime around the 1950s. It’s a cult classic, Geek Love without the tragedy. It’s educational too. Anyone wanting to know the secrets of fire eating or how to swallow a neon tube need look no further. I know my copy is in the house somewhere.

Leave a Comment