No one reads Devo.
Much of the zest in English fiction comes from rogue individualists looking for new ways to lose money by leaving orphaned books for future scavengers to discover and promote. — From Iain Sinclair’s 2008 article on writer-no-one-reads Roland Camberton. (Remember to start your own publishing house.)
Survived, rediscovered—a peculiar occurrence. A man sits in a room writing novels. Nothing happens. The books don’t sell—four hundred apiece, the last one a few more. There are scattered reviews. Then thirty years later, suddenly, the books are brought out, again and again, acclaimed. A small-sized mystery. — From The Golden West: An Interview with Daniel Fuchs
No one reads Good Things about the U.S. Today (sorry, couldn’t resist; via jellobiafrasays)
'An Evil Motherhood' by Walt Ruding
source: The Mystery of Walt Ruding
Fin de siècle footnote Walt Ruding sounds like a real-life Enoch Soames. Bookseller Laurence Worms’ post is a fun read.
Excerpts from Jonathan Clements’ Encyclopedia of Science Fiction entry on Kiodomari Allan (今日泊亜蘭), pseudonym of Yukie Mizushima (1910-2008):
…A renowned polyglot, supposedly conversant to some extent in thirty languages, he also created his own, Heresugo, which he used in some of his genre works. A monocled eccentric and suspected anarchist, he led an adventurous early life, including being deported from Germany in the early 1930s, where the would-be scholar had arrived after stowing away on the Trans-Siberian railway at Harbin, China.
…For such a child prodigy in languages, Kiodomari came relatively late to fiction…In collaboration with Tetsu Yano and Keisuke Watanabe, he formed Japan’s first SF fan group, the “Omega Club”, in 1957 and published the fanzine Kagaku Shōsetsu [“Science Novels”]. Owing to a feud with an early editor of SF Magazine, Kiodomari’s work did not appear in Japan’s other primary journal of sf record until the 1970s.
He is best remembered for Hikari no Tō [The Spires of Light] (1962) in which Earth is attacked in 2011 by unknown invaders, who construct mysterious glowing towers all around the world…[continue reading]
Also see the Japanese wikipedia entry.
Cover by George Grosz for a 1932 German edition of Oklahoma Town, the first collection of stories by a writer no one reads, George Milburn (1906-1966).
From a 2010 article by Sarah Denton:
Milburn left Oklahoma in 1932 and never returned. In the next two years, he moved around the Northeast, with his wife and young daughter in tow, before receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1934 and leaving for Europe. It was during his time abroad that he began work on his first novel, Catalogue, a tale about an Oklahoma town full of discontented residents whose lives and dreams are negatively influenced by items in mail-order catalogues.
In 1935, he returned to the U.S., purchased a farm in the Missouri Ozarks, and began a gradual descent, struggling with the pressures of earning enough to support his family while still reserving time to produce quality writing. Despite his efforts, his second novel, Flannigan’s Folly, about an Oklahoma farmer, was received indifferently, as was his last novel, Julie, from 1956.
By the time of his death, he had been largely forgotten, especially by those in his home state. He died of heart disease and liver cancer on Sept. 22, 1966, in New York.
Illustration of the Argentine poet Oliverio Girondo (1891–1967) by Chris Russell from issue 4 of Stonecutter.
And here is Girondo’s Nocturne #9, translated by Heather Cleary, also from Stonecutter 4:
with my skeleton,
like a toad in its hole,
stretching out into summer,
amid thousands of bugs
in a delirious directionless pastime,
just like the fever
caught by cities.
Alone, with the window
open to the stars,
among chairs and trees that don’t know I exist,
with no desire to leave,
nor an urge to stay
to spend other nights,
with the same skeleton,
and the same veins,
like a toad in its hole
surrounded by bugs.
Heather Cleary also translated Oliverio Girondo’s Poems to Read on a Streetcar for New Directions.
Girondo on 50 Watts.
I’m currently reading the novel Prince Ishmael (based on the legend of Kaspar Hauser) by Marianne Hauser and it feels like a lost classic.
Biographical note by University of Florida Smathers Libraries (where her papers are housed):
Marianne Hauser was born in Strasbourg, Alsace, on December 11, 1910. She graduated from the University of Berlin in 1931 and from Sorbonne in 1934. In 1937 Hauser moved to New York City, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1944. She was fluent in French, German, and English. She worked as a literary critic for the Saturday Review of Literature, the New Republic, the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Sewanee Review. She also was a columnist for Swiss and French periodicals and newspapers, which allowed her to travel throughout North Africa, India, China, Japan, and Hawaii from 1931-1939. She taught at Queens College in New York City from 1966-1978 and at New York University in 1979.
She wrote several short stories that were published in various magazines, and put together a collection of her short stories titled A Lesson in Music (1964). Hauser also wrote several novels: Monique (1934), Shadow Play in India (1934), Dark Dominion (1947), The Choir Invisible (1958), Prince Ishmael (1963), The Talking Room (1976), The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley (1986), Me and My Mom (1993), and Shootout with Father (1998)…
She was married to orchestra conductor Frederic Kirchberger and lived with him in Kirksville, Missouri…The two divorced and Hauser returned to New York City…She died at age 95, in June 2006.
FC2 publishes Hauser’s collected stories and her experimental novels The Talking Room and Shootout with Father. (The out-of-print Prince Ishmael is not experimental.)
You can read most of Larry McCaffery’s interview with Hauser (from his book Some Other Frequency) on Google Books. (“Moby Dick remains for me the greatest book in the entire world”…And about Beckett: “To me he is a visionary—superior to any contemporary writer.”)
Cover image by Ellen Raskin for the 1963 Stein & Day edition.
This wild Portuguese book cover makes me want to read poetry from Angola. Looking around I found there’s a 1979 book translated by Michael Wolfers, “Poems from Angola” (in the African Writers Series). Out-of-print.
Some quotes from The Guardian’s obituary for Rosemary Tonks (1928 – 2014) via ayjay.tumblr.com.
The poet Rosemary Tonks, who has died aged 85, famously “disappeared” in the 1970s. The author of two poetry collections and six published novels, she turned her back on the literary world after a series of personal tragedies and medical crises which made her question the value of literature and embark on a restless, self-torturing spiritual quest.
[…]Living for the next four decades as the reclusive Mrs Lightband in an anonymous-looking old house tucked away behind Bournemouth seafront, she cut herself off from her former life, refusing to see relatives, old friends, or publishers like me who hoped she might change her mind and allow her poetry to be reissued. As far as the literary world was concerned, she “evaporated into air like the Cheshire cat”, as Brian Patten put it in a BBC Lost Voices half-hour feature, The Poet Who Vanished, broadcast on Radio 4 in 2009.
Moving into the Bournemouth house in 1980, she completed the obliteration of the person she had been, consigning an unpublished novel to the garden incinerator…
From The Sofas, Fogs and Cinemas via:
On my bad days (and I’m being broken
At this very moment) I speak of my ambitions…and he
Becomes intensely gloomy, with the look of something jugged,
Morose, sour, mouldering away, with lockjaw….
I grow coarser: and more modern (I, who am driven mad
By my ideas; who go nowhere;
Who dare not leave my front door, lest an idea…)
All right. I admit everything, everything!
Oh yes, the opera (Ah, but the cinema)
He particularly enjoys it, enjoys it horribly, when someone’s ill
At the last minute; and they specially fly in
A new, gigantic, Dutch soprano. He wants to help her
With her arias. Old goat! Blasphemer!
He wants to help her with her arias!
No, I…go to the cinema,
I particularly like it when the fog is thick, the street
Is like a hole in an old coat, and the light is brown as laudanum…
Some links: one, two, three, four.
Photo: “Rosemary Tonks in the 1960s…Photograph: Jane Bown”