What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”
I'm rather fond of the novels of James Wilcox, whose books get into bookstores but never get the front-of-store billing that some others do. Some are set in a small town in Louisiana; others are set in New York City. The Louisiana ones are better, in my opinion. They're comic with a hint of tragedy. My favorite is probably Miss Undine's Living Room.
Probably my favorite obscure book is Steven Millhauser's Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright. The novel, which takes the form of a biography written by a 11-year-old about his recently deceased friend of the same age, is often hilarious, yet also charming and touching. It also splendidly evokes the atmosphere of 1950's America, in and outside the classroom.
Historical-fiction-wise, I've mentioned it before on this blog, I think, but some of my favorite obscure novels are now out-of-print novels about the reign of Edward II, namely, The King's Minions and The Queen and Mortimer by Brenda Honeyman, The Lion and the Leopard by Mary Ellen Johnston, and The Lord of Misrule and King's Wake by Eve Trevaskis.
Moving on to obscure Richard III fiction, I borrowed Presumed Guilty by Evelyn Rosenthal from the Richard III Society's library the other day and was quite impressed by it. Published by Vantage Press, a subsidy press, in 1982 when self-publishing was still an expensive undertaking, it tells its story (through Buckingham, Elizabeth of York, Francis Lovell, Margaret of Burgundy, and John Morton) as well as or better than most other Ricardian novels I've read, and it's a hell of a lot better researched than many of them. Pity it was published before the days of print-on-demand; it'd be easier to find a copy for sale!