cover image The Book of Forgotten Authors

The Book of Forgotten Authors

Christopher Fowler. Hodder & Stoughton, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-78648-490-1

Fowler’s quirky book is an ode to musty paperbacks and a testament to the idea that “real readers don’t forget.” Consisting of 100 short articles and 12 essays on “forgotten” authors—that is, those whose books are hard to obtain and whose names “drew blank looks” from Fowler’s focus group of fellow book lovers—the work covers writers that include early 20th-century realist James Hanley, whose novel cycle the Furys, about a working-class family’s downfall, was compared to Conrad and Dostoyevsky, and Richard Marsh, a prolific Victorian (and reformed con-artist playboy) whose macabre tale of shape-shifting and hypnotism, The Beetle, is “worth reading in tandem with Dracula,” which it initially outsold. Often, these writers toiled as screenwriters as well (many contributed scripts or stories to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, among them George Langelaan, John Collier, and Cornell Woolrich), and some frankly are less forgotten than others (Richard Condon, author of The Manchurian Candidate, appears here, as does T.H. White, author of The Once and Future King). But even famous authors have forgotten work, it seems, as the essay on Dickens suggests (Fowler points to his coauthored works Mugby Junction and The Haunted House). While Fowler’s short articles make this a bit fatiguing to read cover-to-cover, readers interested in exploring out-of-print fiction and other literary curiosities will find this to be a valuable and entertaining guide. Agent: James Wills, Watson Little (U.K). (Oct.)