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List your favorite under-rated authors

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  • List your favorite under-rated authors

    There have been many books published, more so than can ever be popular forever. And I am certain that just about everyone has thought that one of their favorite writers was just the cat's meow, only to fade off into obscurity or just dropped out of the public's eye.

    One of the author's I recall discovering and enjoying immensely was Louise Cooper. I discovered her first "Time..." novel, since it had a cover by one of the artists that had done ACE covers for Mike's Count Brass novels. Unfortunately, I don't have the novels anymore, and some of teh details are fuzzy, but she had two trilogies in the Time Cycle (or whatever it was called), then a very long (like 12 part epic) called Indigo (which I didn't like as much, although it was interesting, it just didn't move fast enough for me).

    And for number two, I'll throw in an underrated book: Hermann Hesse's Demian. Everyone raves about Steppenwolf and the Pulitzer Prize winning Glass Bead Game, but damn if Demian didn't just hit me like a ton of bricks! In fact, I bought extra copies when I discovered an edition of it in my bookstore's bargain section and gave away the copies to everyone I knew. One of THE best coming of age stories I have every read.

    Jeff

  • #2
    This is a bit difficult. My first thoughts were five authors who are loved by critics and other authors, but they aren't wild commercial successes. I think they would apply to your list.

    The first would be Jonathan Carroll, who I think everyone should read for incredible use of language. He strings together simple words into beautiful language. He doesn't have to rely on the vocabulary tricks a writer like Chabon uses (though I like Chabon). More importantly, he makes you believe that real magic is in the world we know.

    The second is Graham Joyce. Wildly imaginative and compulsively readable--without seeming disposable. He makes you think about possibilities in worlds that are almost ours.

    The third is Jeff Vandermeer. Colorful, funny, smart, literate, profound, daring. Usually all at once. He writes great short fiction, which packs more ideas into six thousand words than many authors' work puts into six hundred pages.

    Jeffrey Ford is number four. Great prose, powerful images. I have read people who compare him, favorably, to Kafka and Orwell, which is deserved. I love The Physiognomy, which is a great dystopian novel, but his short fiction may be his best work.

    Finally, Kelly Link is a recent discovery. I found a short story collection by accident and found some of the best short fiction that I've read in a while. Haunting, disturbing, often funny, often profound.

    My lists usually sound like broken records. I think I've mentioned my first four about three hundred times on the board... :oops:

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    • #3
      One author I've never noticed being mentioned here is Lois McMaster Bujold... I'm not a big fan of "space opera" stuff, but Bujold has created quite a sturdy central dynasty, to provide vital "human interest", in the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan. As with all of the best protagonists, he is deeply flawed, but sharp and witty enough to get himself out of most scrapes. I haven't read as many of the Miles books as I'd like to, but those I have read were entirely gripping, with plenty of good jokes and heart-string plucking.

      Oh, and me, of course. I'm very under-rated. :D
      "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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      • #4
        Off the top of me head...

        TH White, mostly remembered for The Sword in the Stone, first book, from his version of Le Morte de Arthur: 'The Once and Future King'. It starts off light but deepens to darkness and is wonderful. The Goshawk is also excellent.

        Eric Frank Russell, great science fiction writer and early Fortean. Wasp, about a saboteur infiltrated into an alien and totaltiarian society, to cause havoc, is still very relevant! I'm reduced to buying secondhand copies of his stuff in Dutch, at the moment.

        Sylvia Townsend Warner, real one off writer. Lolly Willowes is an amazing little book that someone should make into a movie, starring either Dame Judi Dench, Maggie Smith or Imelda Staunton, immediately!

        George Mackay Brown, poetic, gently subversive, Orcadian writer. An Orkney Tapestry, or Greenvoe are good places to start.


        :)

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        • #5
          Jonathan Aycliffe - true heir to MR James. All out of print! Aka Daniel Easterman for books in the thriller genre - but they're not my copy of tea.
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #6
            I wouldn't necessarily put TH White in this category, since his The Once and Future King is considered a classic and is actually taught in middle schools and high school here in America. I always thought it was a lesser variant of the Arthurian stuff, liking the original La Morte De Arthur or Idylls of the King much more; although White's work is considered THE Arthurian tale in prose form.

            Jeff

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            • #7
              Re: List your favorite under-rated authors

              Originally posted by Lord Doom
              One of the author's I recall discovering and enjoying immensely was Louise Cooper. I discovered her first "Time..." novel, since it had a cover by one of the artists that had done ACE covers for Mike's Count Brass novels. Unfortunately, I don't have the novels anymore, and some of teh details are fuzzy, but she had two trilogies in the Time Cycle (or whatever it was called), then a very long (like 12 part epic) called Indigo (which I didn't like as much, although it was interesting, it just didn't move fast enough for me).
              Jeff
              Oh, it was called Time Master, and Louise recently posted at her website that Mundania Press is republishing it! Yea! If anyone is interested, here's the link to her page: http://www.louisecooper.com/

              Oh, and Robert Gould was the cover artist for the original US editions.

              Jeff

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Time Master #1: The Initiate

                I found this blurb at the Mundania Press website.

                "Louise Cooper is a magical storyteller. Never has the battle of Order and Chaos, the great struggle between what is best in us and what is worst, been better recorded than in Louise Cooper's magical fantasy sequence. Her sharp understanding of human ambiguity, her gift for narrative and her wonderfully original imagination make her one of our finest writers of epic fantasy. —Michael Moorcock"

                Small world. The first book, according to Ms. Cooper's website was in April, even though the main publisher website didn't have a direct listing accept a coming soon logo through an author bio. Must order through Ingram tomorrow.

                Jeff

                Comment


                • #9
                  I love jonathon Carroll. Nice, short, beautifully written novels that leave their mark on your soul. Very under rated as far as mass market goes; the critics love him, as they should.

                  An interesting list of authors so far, and some that I intend to seek out.

                  I've known of Jeff Vandemeer for quite a while; he and Jeffrey Thomas and I all started out around the same time, and I'm the only one who hasn't been singled out as a pure literary genuis... yet. Sigh. :x

                  All in due time, of course.

                  Jeff

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Perhaps Clark Ashton Smith.

                    I picked up a copy of the Fantasy Masterworks anthology of his work and was amazed by the poetic quality of the prose - coupled with an extraordinary vocabulary.

                    Then to read that apparently the guy never received any particular acclaim for his work in his lifetime - very sad. He was an acquired taste but had a unique talent.
                    Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                    Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lord Doom
                      I wouldn't necessarily put TH White in this category, since his The Once and Future King is considered a classic and is actually taught in middle schools and high school here in America. I always thought it was a lesser variant of the Arthurian stuff, liking the original La Morte De Arthur or Idylls of the King much more; although White's work is considered THE Arthurian tale in prose form.

                      Jeff
                      Now, that's interesting, I've always had the impression that White was a bit overlooked in Britain, maybe that's just me?

                      But, he still seems to have been influential, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, to the works of Terry Pratchett, there's definitely something of the Sword in the Stone about them.

                      Which makes it all the more odd to read that, "White's work is considered THE Arthurian tale in prose form"! I'd have though the US would have looked to John Steinbeck's 'The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights : From the Winchester Manuscripts of Thomas Malory & Other Sources'!

                      :)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AndroMan
                        Now, that's interesting, I've always had the impression that White was a bit overlooked in Britain, maybe that's just me?

                        But, he still seems to have been influential, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, to the works of Terry Pratchett, there's definitely something of the Sword in the Stone about them.

                        Which makes it all the more odd to read that, "White's work is considered THE Arthurian tale in prose form"! I'd have though the US would have looked to John Steinbeck's 'The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights : From the Winchester Manuscripts of Thomas Malory & Other Sources'!

                        :)
                        Well, Disney used TH White's novel(s) for the inspiration for their movie, and that is probably why the book is taught in schools here. Steinbeck's King Arthur is considered one of his lesser, "to be disregarded" books. Really. No one really knows about it. Twain's King Arthur book would be more readily considered as the American version ;)

                        Most Americans would, if they could, cite White's novels, or Mary Stewart's as THE Arthurian model, some might add Bulfinch's Age of Chivalry.

                        When that last King Arthur film came out last year, some publisher printed up a new, prose version of La Morte de Arthur. I almost bought it, until I saw that it was re-formatted and basically dummified.

                        Jeff

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lord Doom
                          I love jonathon Carroll. Nice, short, beautifully written novels that leave their mark on your soul. Very under rated as far as mass market goes; the critics love him, as they should.
                          I couldn't agree more. I was able to hear him read on his last book tour. He said, I presume sardonically, that he always wanted to write a "door stopper," but he didn't seem to have it in him. Better for us. The compact nature of his novels always makes their climaxes seem furious, surprising, and often profound.


                          Originally posted by Lord Doom
                          I've known of Jeff Vandemeer for quite a while; he and Jeffrey Thomas and I all started out around the same time, and I'm the only one who hasn't been singled out as a pure literary genuis... yet. Sigh. :x

                          All in due time, of course.

                          Jeff
                          Jeff V seems like a really interesting guy, as well as an incredibly talented writer. Sadly, while he has found moderate fame, I'm guessing (and not disrespectfully, I hope) that he still struggles to make a living as an author. Too bad that stellar reviews don't translate directly to giving up your day job and still having a roof over your head and food on the table...

                          Of course, as long as you keep plugging away, good Lord Doom, it's only a matter of time before everyone recognizes your genius, too. :D

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doc
                            Jeff V seems like a really interesting guy, as well as an incredibly talented writer. Sadly, while he has found moderate fame, I'm guessing (and not disrespectfully, I hope) that he still struggles to make a living as an author. Too bad that stellar reviews don't translate directly to giving up your day job and still having a roof over your head and food on the table...

                            Of course, as long as you keep plugging away, good Lord Doom, it's only a matter of time before everyone recognizes your genius, too. :D
                            Yes, it's difficult to get ahead sometimes, especially when one can't get to all of those lovely conventions to schmooze with the agents. Without an agent, one is farkled. Jeff V and Jeff Thomas seem to make most of their "living" in the smaller presses still with some higher profile short stories and the like. At least they seem to be getting paid for something.

                            I left the link to my websites in the author's plug pages, and perhap Perdix will include the link in the issue of Prototype X issues I'll be appearing in. Hey, free novels and short story collections! What could be better?
                            http://www.geocities.com/flamelicker/

                            Just throw alms. That's all I ask ;)

                            Jeff

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Alain-Fournier's 'Le Grand Meaulnes' is a book that has haunted me since I first read it more than forty years ago (and the film is pretty good as well). It was the only book the author wrote, one of the many fine writers we lost in the slaughter of the 14-18 war.

                              Although it is a story about love and loyalty, it has such a magical (in many sense of the word) aura that it should appeal even to die-hard fantasy fans.

                              Personally, I cannot stand fantasy books as a genre. What I like are well written books that explore ideas and human relationships with other people and the world about them. Some authors, like Mike, do that well. Most others do not.

                              Mind you, I also believe that Mike is the most under-rated English language author on the planet (apart from myself).

                              On the topic of agents - I wouldn't waste my time. But I'm biased because the only agents I've had the displeasure of meeting or working with haven't been able to find their own backsides with both hands and a map to help, let alone a publisher for my work.

                              You'd sell more of your work by setting it up with a print-on-demand printer and advertising it on your own website.

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