On Poetry and Culture Shock

Back catalogue

One of the saddest characteristics of modern literature is that we are always in search of novelty and trends, turning books into a commodity very similar to fashion. I don't refer just to best-sellers: books are allowed a very brief time on bookshop's shelves, especially in big chain stores.

I'm happy to see that one huge chain store is doing something about it. Waterstones is adapting its best-of, the-house-recommends, three-for-two method to the interests of readers and publishing houses, because they have selected 30 little-know, relatively old books to highlight their back catalogue. The selection was done by asking the company's sellers, and therefore it is unavoidably biased towards books originally in English. Here it is:

1 Revenge Of The Lawn by Richard Brautigan
2 What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
3 Death and The Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
4 The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
5 The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
6 Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry by BS Johnson
7 Hunger by Knut Hamsun
8 Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
9 Dry Bones by Richard Beard
10 Mirror Lake by Thomas Christopher Greene
11 Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
12 Journey By Moonlight by Antal Szerb
13 Too Loud A Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
14 Trip To The Stars by Nicholas Christopher
15 Daughter Of The Forest by Juliet Marillier
16 Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
17 Woman On The Edge Of Time by Marge Piercy
18 Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
19 The Pursuit Of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
20 Drama City by George Pelecanos
21 Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll
22 The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
23 Empire Falls by Richard Russo
24 Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban
25 Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
26 Double by José Saramago
27 Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum
28 Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
29 Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

I don't know if these books are good (I have only read one of them), and I don't much like the best-of method. But in my experience, people will buy anything that's recommended in big enough and bright enough lettering, and anything done to publicise books is a good thing.  


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