Anonymous asked: hi! I asked you about your out of print favorites when what i ought to have asked you is: what relatively unknown/unread/obscure books do you LOVE. like, your favorite book that no one else has ever heard of. sorry, i'll stop asking annoying open ended questions after this.
Hello again Anonymous! This is hard: once you read a book, once you know it that well, it’s hard to remember that it may be a different kind of unknown. And this is particularly true when it’s something you love, and you tell all your friends about it, insist, insist, and make them read it, and then everyone you know is tired of you talking about that book that no one’s heard of—you bore—and suddenly this book feels like it’s reached saturation, at least in your own little market of friends who hear you blab about books. (The nice thing about working at a bookstore is that you can blab at people and never see them again. Thanks, customers!)
And also, since quiet anti-epic is not exactly my wheelhouse, my selections there tend to be the obvious ones. Also I’m young enough that a bulk of my reading tends to be The English Major Classics and whatever I felt I missed. Certain obscurities feel like an indulgence; I still haven’t read so much! Though my original recommendations still stand. Anyway, I’m not sure how long you’ve been participating in the McNally Jackson Internet Experience, but here are some things I blab about here and on the twitter because I think they’re under-read:
- Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, a poem-essay about the color blue, and William Gass’ On Being Blue, an essay-poem about the color blue (though mostly sex & writing). These two paired together are known as the bluefer-twofer.
- Ander Monson’s weird and wonderful Vanishing Point, which didn’t get talked about enough. Contains the single best close reading of Doritos I’ve read.
- Damion Searls’ collection of stories, What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going.
- Would it be so dumb to mention D.H. Lawrence as “obscure”? Nobody ever told me (except my sister—sorry for ignoring you, Nina) that his Studies in Classic American Literature is hilarious. Hilarious.