October 27th, 2011 / 8:07 pm

What authors or books do you love that most people hate or have never heard of?


  1. shaun gannon

      i never see anyone talk about carsten rene nielsen which is a real shame

  2. Clarence L'inspecteur

      I’m the only one around here (in Montreal) who digs Eggers’ AHWOSG. Everybody’s always just reminding me it’s soooo not Infinite Jest. Well, I’m into Conor Oberst as well. Guess I’m just the emo kid on the block.

      And I surely know a LOT of great Quebec writers you’ve never heard of, hehe.

  3. mimi

      ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’ by Elizabeth Smart is a favorite that I’ve never heard anyone else speak of (or write about).

  4. Dan

      The Murphy Stories by Mark Costello

  5. EC
  6. Kristen Iskandrian

      Musil’s “Posthumous Papers of a Living Author”

  7. Leapsloth14

      The Bible.

  8. Leapsloth14

      The Beatles.

  9. Leapsloth14

      Cracker Barrel.

  10. catheaven


  11. postitbreakup

      wish i saved up for rainy days cuz they’re the hardest to be dry
      i’ve got no self-control
      i’m always begging into telephones, and
      i bought a little from my brother’s friend, yeah just enough to get me by
      i don’t trust his cut
      the effect’s never as high as the mark-up

      i think i’ll print it in the personals that i’m looking for a match
      someone to light me up
      someone to burn the proof of the things that i’ve done

      each day there’s hours i skip like a stone…

  12. postitbreakup

      he’s probably known around here, but i don’t think enough people read scott heim

  13. Leapsloth14

      I really don’t get why Jim Harrison’s works aren’t more well known and respected.

  14. alexisorgera

      Michelle Cliff’s Free Enterprise. Nobody ever knows about that one, and it’s one of my faves.

  15. silencedogood

      Not sure if he counts, but a lot of people hate Norman Mailer (probably justified) but I think his strongest work holds up against just about anything.

      Although he has some followers, I think Oscar Casares is as good as it gets for young writers and should be better known.   

  16. Michael

      Stephanie Vaughn, “Sweet Talk”

  17. kevinspain

      the book i’m currently writing.  you’ve NEVER heard of it and you’ll likely hate it. also fernando pessoa.

  18. Leapsloth14
  19. John Minichillo

      Carlo Castellaneta, an Italian novelist, not to be confused with Carlos Castaneda. Haven’t seen too many of his books translated. Came across one years ago by accident, still looking…

  20. Scott Riley Irvine

      Gilbert Sorrentino

  21. Bill

      I kind of like Scott Heim. Can’t say I’m a big fan though.


  22. Bill

      Patricia Duncker’s The Deadly Space Between. Goodreads average rating 2.89.

  23. Brooklyn Copeland

      In certain companies I feel kinda pleeb admitting that Michael Chabon is one of my favorite living novelists. But all my favorite dead ones (white men who wrote about white men having suburban-life meltdowns) are just as bad.

      But, whatever. I love Michael Chabon.

  24. Mountain Dew

      Jane Bowles. Two Serious Ladies is good.

  25. William Owen

      A friend of mine got me into Charlie Portis back in grad school and for several years no one ever had heard of him when I mentioned him, then the Coen brothers happened and the effect has dulled.

      Being There. I think it has one of the greatest endings of all time, and I don’t know anyone who’s read it. And the movie was beautiful (plus, you know, Peter Sellers).

  26. Sks

      James Frey

  27. Jeff

      Sarah Manguso.

  28. Nate

      Bret Easton Ellis.

  29. Evan Hatch

      rly bro?

  30. Mark Doten


  31. Mark Doten

      Notice by Heather Lewis. 

  32. Evan Hatch

      I fucking love Zachary Germans “Eat When You Feel Sad”, and it legitimately is my favorite book spawned by the whole Tao Lin crowd, except for maybe “Eeeee Eee Eeee”. Its almost austistic level commitment to declarative sentences is off putting to many people but if you can tolerate that (or appreciate it as I do) you can find yourself enjoying what I feels is one of the most candid and realistic representations of 21st century youth, and doubly delight in the fact that you are one of the few people to do so.

  33. Corey Zeller

      hey, me too!

  34. lorian long

      tao lin radiohead

  35. A D Jameson

      Morrissey is my favorite contemporary artist.

  36. A D Jameson

      I fucking adore that novel! One of the best, IMO.

  37. A D Jameson
  38. Eboni j Dunbar

      All of Bhanu Kapil’s books. My family and work friends all think I’m nuts. My poet friends love her work.

  39. Rob

      James Kelman, Elfriede Jelinek 

  40. A D Jameson

      Elfriede Jelinek is awesome. Women as Lovers is so excellent…

  41. Tim B.

      Independent People by Halldor Laxness

  42. William VanDenBerg

      Moscow to the End of the Line, Venedikt Erofeev

  43. Bradley Sands

      I don’t love them but I really liked Jonathan Safran Foer’s first two novels.

  44. Brooks Sterritt

      A German Picturesque by Jason Schwartz

  45. Brooks Sterritt

      Mark Leyner

  46. Ester

      Love him. Why the hell did he stop writing fiction and fall off the face of the planet (or my planet at least)? I’ve NEVER been able to talk about his books with anyone I hadn’t turned onto him myself.

  47. PoeticFiction

      I love that book. Oddly enough I was turned onto it by a girl called Mimi. Long ago… When I discovered the Morrissey connection, I freaked…then thought that Morrissey should have cited her in his liner notes.

  48. OneNightStanzas

      I know she’s a big deal in Canada, but no one here in the UK has ever heard of Patricia Young, and she’s an amazing poet.

      Similarly, Norman Nicholson is a great 20thC UK poet, contemporary of Larkin, Hughes &co, and brilliant… but never a mention.

  49. chet

      second the jim harrison, as well as his homie mcguane

  50. ryan chang

      Mine too. The lyrics on Ringleader of the Tormentors are the strongest he’s written since Vauxhall and I, which is his best. Speedway is massive

  51. Kevin Spaide

      Frederic Prokosch – The Asiatics, The Seven Who Fled.

  52. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      for some odd reason robert stone gets forgotten. perhaps critics and teachers and students remember his work, but i feel his books should be massively popular. like deLillo level. or at least available when we go into a barnes & noble. 

  53. Marc

      All of Bob Stone’s recent books are in B&N the last time I checked. However, if you’re talking about classics like Dog Soldiers or other early works they may be out of print, but can still be easily found.

  54. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Anything by former club kid/celebutante James St. James. He’s a delightful stylist.

  55. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      I should have by now.

  56. Marc

      Ron Sukenick’s books are delightful and fantastic.

  57. Guestagain

      Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard, and Aurtoro Bandini

  58. Clarence L'inspecteur

      I bought True Grit like three months before they changed the cover.

      (And it’s strange too because I perfectly remember saying to myself after finishing the book: wow, this would make a great Coen bros movie. Well…)


  59. Clarence L'inspecteur
  60. Murphy

      Drive, He Said by Jeremy Larner

  61. Tummler

      Nigel Tomm

  62. davidpeak

      mysterious skin had a huge impact on me

  63. Guesty

      Edward Carey: Observatory Mansions, Alva and Irva

  64. davidpeak

      this. i love that book. and the foundation pit by andrei platonov.

  65. davidpeak

      Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti

  66. Ryan Sanford Smith

      Tao Lin, no matter how easy he seems to make it to write him off. He wins mucho points for having seemingly little tolerance for talking about ‘what he does’ in his work. He also seems comfortingly cognizant of how absurd ‘it’ all is, which is something I wish more writers played with openly.

  67. bartleby_taco

      Things some people might hate: I can only think of movies off the top of my head right now, but I would said, despite the general praise by ‘most’ people, two movies that I still think are very good are Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds b/c I was reading the DFW essay about David Lynch and he sort of lambastes Tarantino as a super sleek hyped-up Lynch epigone, which may or may not be true, but I think there is some particular worth to both of those movies and I am willing to defend them!

      re: never heard: I recently finished Macedonio Fernandez’s “The Museum of Eterna’s Novel”, which is well known perhaps in the right circles, but I don’t really hear about Fernandez that much anywhere, really. He seems absurdly ahead of his time (novel was mostly written in 30’s and 40’s) and was the ‘mentor’ of Borges. It starts with 50+ prologues about the novel and the actual novel is about some ‘characters’ gathering together at a place called ‘La Novela’ contemplating their future w/r/t the author’s intentions. Very fun/playful/intersting!

  68. M. Broder is Special

      Letters to Yesenin is incredible.

  69. mimi

      i was unaware of the morrissey connection  

      i must investigate this!  

      thanks catheaven

  70. mimi


  71. guest
  72. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      yay bhanu

  73. Dan Wickett

      Rick Collignon
      2nd the Mark Costello
      Steve Stern

  74. surfkansas

      John Hawkes and Evan S. Connell. 

  75. Brooks Sterritt

      This just made my afternoon

  76. Anonymous

      Anna Kavan
      Yasunari Kawabata

  77. Tatertots23

      Lord knows no one on htmlgiant knows about Tao Lin. Has his name even been mentioned on this site before? Totally obscure find! How did you even think of him? 

  78. stephen

      i just heard about kawabata recently, russ, via michael silverblatt’s radio show. i’m interested in his work. i like that he did lots of “palm-of-the-hand” stories as he called them.

  79. Michael

      Jaimy Gordon, “Shamp of City-Solo”
      John Gardner (of “Grendel” and polemical “moral fiction” fame), “October Light” and “Nickel Mountain”

  80. Kevin Sampsell

      Miriam Toews is underrated in the U.S. (but big in Canada). And people diss on Gordon Lish’s fiction, but a lot of it is really great. Especially Dear Mr. Capote.

  81. Cole

      I like Sebastian Faulks’s The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives. You’d hate Faulks if you knew he was (ok he wrote Charlotte Gray, which later became a movie with Cate Blanchett, and he wrote a new James Bond novel). I wouldn’t have picked up the book if I’d known of him already. 

      This trio of biographies is kind of great, especially the last one, the life of Jeremy Wolfenden, an Etonian, a spy and double agent, an open homosexual (while it was still criminal in England), something of a genius at Oxford. He ends up leading the most fucked-up, sad, shabby, diminished life. If you don’t have time to read Time Regained, read the Wolfenden section of The Fatal Englishman. 

  82. Kevin Spaide

      Love Nickel Mountain and Grendel. Not so fond of the other two.

  83. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      got paid today. so i went to barnes & noble to buy the new murakami. checked on the robert stone selection. the barnes & noble in west hartford, ct had no robert stone. not one of his books.
      the last time my parents asked me what i wanted for christmas, i said robert stone books. my mother said she had an awful time trying to find any (the days pre-amazon it all). 
      when _fun with problems_ came out, i went to the wesleyan bookstore, thinking that they would carry it (the university has always supported his work). nope. they didn’t have it. i went to the borders and the barnes & noble. nope. i had to order it online. and yes, you can order them all online. but. robert stone? all of his books should be on the shelves in places like barnes & noble. but they not.
      so this is why i say this is some crazy ass shit, homie. 

  84. Bradley Sands

      He was crazy popular like a decade ago. Excited for the new book. A little frightened that it will stink.

      Check out Steve Aylett. Really similar to Leyer, but more genre fiction-y than post-modern-y.

  85. Bradley Sands

      I assume that he stopped writing for a while because he was living off the ton of money that he made by co-writing those shitty books that were NY Times Bestsellers and they sold in airport bookstores like Why Do Men Have Nipples? But now he’s back! Or he will be soon.

  86. gene

      mark anthony jarman is this canadian who kills. sentence-by-sentence, dude is fire. the only people i’ve been able to talk to him about are people i’ve given his books to. his early stuff was definitely barry hannah-inspired (hannah taught him at iowa) and he admits as much, but jarman is definitely bringing in his own hi-hats.

  87. Kyle Minor

      some books some people know but more people should know:

      William Goyen’s House of Breath
      Joyelle McSweeney’s The Necropastoral
      Stephen Dixon’s InterstateJohannes Goransson’s Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate.
      Maggie Nelson’s Bluets
      Terrance Hayes’s We Are the TribesHeather McHugh’s Hinge and Sign
      Maurice Manning’s Bucolics
      Bill Knott, the self-published collection from Lulu.com
      Albert Goldbarth’s The Kitchen Sink
      Melanie Rae Thon’s Girls in the Grass
      Yasunari Kawabata’s The Master of Go
      Shusaku Endo’s Silence
      Evan Lavender-Smith, From Old Notebooks
      Aaron Gwyn’s Dog on the CrossJoy Williams’s Ill NatureJillian Weise, The Amputee’s Guide to SexThomas Bernhard’s LoserLawrence Weschler’s Vermeer in BosniaTom Franklin’s Smonk and Hell at the BreechRussell Banks’s The Sweet HereafterRachel B. Glaser, Pee on WaterChristopher Coake’s We’re In Trouble

  88. Ryan Sanford Smith

      …and most of them seem to hate him; do please elaborate on why then you think my ‘choice’ here was silly? Seems to easily fit one of the two criteria. Should I draw you a crayon diagram so you can comprehend?

  89. Kevin Spaide

      All right, let’s go for it:

      Kolyma Tales – Varlam Shalamov
      Sudden Times – Dermot Healy
      Timoleon Vieta Come Home – Dan Rhodes
      Man is Wolf to Man – Janusz Bardach
      Behindlings – Nicola Barker
      Mailman – J. Robert Lennon
      Savage Dreams – Rebecca Solnit
      Metropole – Ferenc Karinthy
      Fires – Nick Antosca
      Disturbing the Peace – Richard Yates
      Jungle Lovers – Paul Theroux
      The Stars at Noon – Denis Johnson

      Ok not exactly unknown writers, most of them, but books I like that I want other people to know about. And again – Frederic Prokosch. Great writer.

  90. Tatertots23

      You are really bad at this. 

  91. mimi

      Rebecca Solnit

  92. Ester

      Wow. I had no idea there was a new novel coming out. Thanks a million for letting me know about this C.L. I’m going to pre-order the fucker — what a title.

      And B.S.: I thought he had quit writing entirely; it never occurred to me that he was the same Mark Leyner co-writing that Why Do Men Have Nipples stuff. Yikes. Though, it’s true he has a bizarre medical fetish from his novels. Still. Now that I think of it, more power to him if he can write schlock and get real money from it…just don’t stop writing the good stuff, too! And it looks as if he, finally, has come back to us. I can’t wait.

  93. tao

      interested in ‘palm-of-the-hand’ stories, what is that

  94. Ester

      I worship Harrison, have read everything except the most recent two, watch his Lannan videos whenever I get depressed. Did you see that documentary film with him interviewing Gary Snyder? Excellent.  Don’t really agree though that he isn’t well-known and well-respected. As far as literary fiction goes, I think he gets a great deal of respect and his books are largely, if not completely, in print. I think he gets a little less respect as a poet, but his recent return in a big way to poetry is helping. I mean Copper Canyon aren’t obscure. Letters to Yesenin is indeed incredible, followed, for me, by After Ikkyu. Braided Creek is also a wonder. Yay Jim Harrison!

  95. PoeticFiction

      Vauxhall is great. But nothing for me is as good as Viva Hate. Not a thing. Nope. Nada.

  96. Don

      Night’s Lies by Gesualdo Bufalino

      Incredible Italian novel that is out of print.

  97. Matt Leibel

      Rupert Thomson ought to be more widely known. Maybe he is in the UK, I don’t know. All of his novels really, but The Book of Revelation is a great place to start. Also:

      Alexander Theroux–Darconville’s Cat
      Barry Yourgrau–Haunted Traveler
      Luisa Valenzuela–Symmetries
      Susan Daitch–Storytown
      Ana Maria Shua–Microfictions
      Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky–Memories of the Future
      Kirstin Bakis–Lives of the Monster Dogs
      Stanley Elkin–The Living End
      Jerome K. Jerome–Three Men in a Boat
      Donald Antrim–The Verificationist
      Kate Braverman–Squandering the Blue
      Ron Loewinsohn–Magnetic Fields
      Daniil Kharms–Today I Wrote Nothing
      Jim Crace–Gift of Stones
      G.K. Chesterton–Father Brown Stories
      Leonard Michaels–Sylvia
      Richard Flanagan–Gould’s Book of Fish
      Kobo Abe–Inter Ice Ace 4
      everything by Steve Erickson.
      everything by Javier Marias.

      And hell yes on Mark Leyner, glad to see he has something new coming.

  98. alanrossi

      like little weird flash fiction things, sometimes a little bit like magical realism.  a little like koans, stones to turn over.  The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other stories is good.  it’s worth buying for the title story alone, which is the only one in there, i think, which is not a palm of the hand story.  maybe there’s one more other long one, can’t remember

  99. alanrossi

      love The Master of Go. 

  100. alanrossi

      has anyone read James Welch’s Winter in the Blood?  i feel like that book never gets any words at all.  such a beautiful and strange little book. 

  101. House

      Harlan Ellison. Our Borges, our Carroll and sometimes our conscience and he doesn’t write a bad SF story, either. Most people either love him or hate him. If you have heard of him, you haven’t heard anything good and if you haven’t heard of him, you need to widen your literary perspective. Start with Deathbird Stories.

  102. adrian

      I did this really terrible thing about two years ago when I moved. I had three book cases with a total of about 600 books on them. I didn’t want to move all those books to my new apartment (that whole ‘starting over fresh’ bullshit), books which I’d been hauling around for 15 years from apt. to apt. I get this bright idea to trim the fat, so I filled 8 Xeroxpaper boxes full of books I felt I could part with, and hauled them to Half Price Crooks. No joke — the take-in girl behind the counter that night looked like Velma from Scooby Doo. After twenty minutes, she calls my name on the PA and says we have an offer for you. When I get up to the counter, she prefaced the offer by saying “you have some really nice books here.” No one had ever said that to me before. I took home $140 cash that night. I wouldn’t regret it until much later. One of those books was Barry Yourgrau’s “Haunted Traveler.”  I hardly ever quote Cinderella, but it’s really true. You really Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone). Thanks for reminding me.  

  103. M. Kitchell

      oh jeez, i haven’t thought about maurice manning since lawrence booth’s book of visions was “a thing” as they say, i need to catch up

  104. M. Kitchell

      i would estimate 60% of my posts here are my answer to this question, but i guess you’re probably not really asking me hehe

  105. Guestagain

      yes, Harlan Ellison has a very humanist/societal perspective, more than Asimov, who was a biochemist that came into SF writing

  106. michael

      osvaldo lamborghini

  107. ryan chang

      Viva Hate might be my least favorite of his, next to Kill Uncle maybe, though Hairdresser on Fire is in my top 5 mozzer tunes. duno. can’t ever get into Viva Hate

  108. John Minichillo

      Flash has been around forever. That’s what he calls it. The pieces also minimalist w/ characters like “the boy” and generally only one or two characters.

  109. deadgod

      A Chancer is a great performance.  Kelman is quite well known in Britain, isn’t he?

  110. Brooks Sterritt

      I wish I had been around people who knew about Mark Leyner in 2001. Actually, I take that back. I’m excited for the new one too. Tetherballs was very funny. I do remember Wallace calling My Cousin My Gastroenterologist the biggest campus hit since The Fountainhead, or some such, which is saying a lot. I will check out Steve Aylett.  LIQUID TELEVISION.

  111. Brooks Sterritt

      also what was up with that John Cusack project? $

  112. deadgod

      I thought Hudson Hawk was a good movie.  Ishtar is a bit dull because Beatty is dull, but it’s as good a movie as is, say, Dances With Wolves.  Occasionally – I wouldn’t say ‘often’ – , a well-done movie gets buried under an avalanche of hate.

  113. deadgod

      Craig Nova is an underappreciated great writer; I found my way in through The Geek, and the first four of his novels are superb.

      Lawrence Norfolk is a great novelist–a peer of David Mitchell, albeit a maximalist of the Pynchon sort.

  114. 6BatofMoon9

      Ellison has written very little actual science fiction, and what has written contains very little science. (Doesn’t make them bad stories though.) Most of his work is fantasy and/or horror.

  115. Mike Young

      Janet Kauffman, and Jeff T. Johnson’s comments two years ago have finally got me into Stephen Wright, particularly M31: A Family Romance. He’s rocky as a stylist, but the ideas are surprising and the navigation of lotsa-people scenes really deft.

  116. Mike Young

      Read The Death of Jim Loney at the urging of Chris Bachelder and really dug it. Sort of a Tom Drury/James Purdy-ish haunted absurdity of everyday interaction.

  117. alanrossi

      Jim Loney’s a good one, but Winter in the Blood is better i think, even more absurd at times. 

  118. Jon Cone

      Most critics hate Celine’s final trilogy: Castle to Castle, North, and Rigadoon. But I find them incandescent with rage and madness. 

  119. Dole

      Kenji Miyazawa

  120. Colin Herd

      Jack Dunphy is one of my favourite writers.

  121. thelmadonna

      Confederacy of Dunces. Well-known enough, I suppose, but most of the people I know who’ve read it were really turned off.