Over the past ten years or so I’ve noticed a trend in my reading habits: owing to continuous disappointment with modern literature (even with recommendations from colleagues, friends, professionals, etc, etc) I’ve found myself delving deeper and deeper into the writers of yesteryear.
Now I’ve already got a fairly out-of-control pulp addiction: I constantly collect these beautiful paperback books from second-hand fairs, boot sales, library sales, bookshops – wherever you can think of, in fact.
And pulp is an often underrated genre , one which can pack in a dense and accurate portrayal of the human psyche but often ignored by the mainstream media except for a few key writers.
But I also started reading classics from the beginning of time up until the 1980’s, with exceptions allowed of course.
As a guide I took TIME magazine’s best novels of the 20th century and slowly used that list to expand my list bigger and bigger. I’ve also kept an eye out for unsung writers – often re-publications of certain books is the way to go for finding out more about these.
Seeing my newfound obsession, my friends and family responded fairly well. I’m proud to say I’ve received nothing but books this Christmas and the one I’m reading at the moment – ‘London Belongs To Me’ is rather brilliant.
Actually written in 1945, the novel is set in 1938 and depicts an assortment of characters all drawn from London Life. It’s sprawling, often rambling and hilarious in places – reminiscent of the city it’s depicting.
It never ceases to amaze me how much forgotten and yet absolutely worthwhile art exists out there in the ether. Paintings, Albums, Novels, Films – and although the internet has made research and access easier UNLESS you know what you’re looking for the whole process often ends up being limited to a very small circle of titles.
So, dear reader, I wanted to pose a challenge to you. Do you think you could come up with a small list of forgotten masterpieces?
It does not matter what branch of the arts the work belongs to. All I ask, nay demand, of you is that the work in question should be relatively obscure and yet worthy of attention.
To start you off and to give you an idea here’s a list of books which have been largely forgotten in the throes of time but should be required reading for any literate person.
Hangover Square, London Belongs To Me, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, appointment In Samarra,Go Tell It On The Mountain.
I await your input with great excitement.