Sunday, May 25, 2008


Stephen Elliott sends a list of his forgotten books:
I'm a compulsive recommender of overlooked books. . . . These are all books that are, to me, the very best of their kind but never got the mainstream recognition they deserved. I mean, some of them were best sellers for a while, but they've all kind of faded and might be hard to find on some store shelves. They're all at least a couple of years old and, except for Peter Orner, written by people I don't know, or at least didn't know when I first read the book.

I'm going to avoid saying Desperate Characters by Paula Fox, because as much as I love that book, it's starting to become cliche as a recommendation. Desperate Characters might actually have graduated to that next level of books, books you don't need to recommend.


The Car Thief, by Theodore Weesner
Stoner, by John Williams
Good Morning Midnight, by Jean Rhys
Valencia, by Michelle Tea, sometimes called a memoir
The Beggars Shore, by Zak Muncha
The Second Coming Of Mavala Shikongo, by Peter Orner


Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick, possibly the best memoir I have ever read
Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, possibly the only memoir good enough to be compared with Fierce Attachments
Edie: American Girl, by Jean Stein
Waiting For Nothing, by Thomas Kromer


Seek, by Denis Johnson, in my mind the only book by Denis Johnson that actually rivals Jesus Son


  1. I'm a big fan of both "The Car Thief" and "Stoner." Nice to see them getting a shout out.

  2. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is pretty well-known, I think; it was a bestseller. But it's a good book.

    I'd definitely add Joy Williams' books Honored Guest and The Quick and the Dead. She deserves a wider audience.

  3. I think It's All Right Now by Charles Chadwick is worthy of becoming a classic, but aside from a rave by David Gates in Newsweek and a maddening review by Allison Pearson in the NY Times, it was mostly ignored.

    I share a name with the author of Stoner, and have been meaning to read it for a while -- not for that reason, of course. A couple of friends have highly recommended it.