Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

I’m part of a online community called Book Connectors where bloggers, reviewers and authors can discuss all things book related. During one of the threads there was mention of ‘quiet’ books, the ones that miss out on the big publicity push. It was agreed that it was such a shame that certain books weren’t as widely read, as the reading public were missing out on hidden gems. So that sparked a germ of an idea and I decided to do a series of posts highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That was the working title for this series of posts and as inspiration hasn’t struck me with anything better, its the one I’m going with for now).

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

This time Under the Reader’s Radar is slightly different in that only one book is being shouted about.

Sally Emerson, author of Seperation, Fire Child, Second Sight, Heat, Broken Bodies and Listeners (all recently republished by Quartet books) has written her own Under the Reader’s Radar review for Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote, published by Penguin.

When Joel Knox’s mother dies, he is sent into the exotic unknown of the Deep South to live with a father he has never seen. But once he gets there, everyone is curiously evasive when Joel asks to see his father. Truman Capote’s first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a brilliant, searching study of homosexuality set in a shimmering landscape of heat, mystery and decadence.
Read more on the Penguin website.

 

Here’s Sally’s review of the novel.

We all know ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ but Truman Capote’s first novel (1948) is equally remarkable though very different. It tells the story of 13 year-old Joel Harrison Knox who travels to a dilapidated house on a plantation in Mississippi to be looked after by his father after the death of his mother. The language immediately takes the reader into a smouldering, southern world of decay and threat and beauty: ‘this is lonesome country; and here in the swamplike hollows where tiger lilies bloom the size of a man’s head, there are luminous green logs that shine under the dark marsh water like drowned corpses’. Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925 and brought up in the south before the semi-autobiographical ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ helped to launch the 23 year old writer who like his protagonist was pretty, fair-skinned and delicate, and liked to tell big stories. As a boy he was friendly with Harper Lee (of ‘To kill a Mockingbird’) and she turns up here as the mesmerising tomboyish Idabel, one of the book’s great characters.

At the plantation house ‘Skully’s Landing’ he is surrounded by strange characters and a series of mysteries, including the whereabouts of his father. Much of his time is spent with his camp, narcissistic older cousin, Randolph, who owns the house with its secrets. A little like Jane Eyre, there appears be a strange lady in the attic. If you enjoyed ‘Jane Eyre’, if you enjoyed ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, and if a brooding southern New Orleans Gothic mood attracts you, do read this dark fairy tale of a novel.

So there we have it, another book that had passed me by. Have you read it? Have you come across any quiet novels you want to shout about? If so let me know.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. This sounds fab – I must read it! Thanks!

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    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you like it if you do get to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mishaherwin says:

    Reblogged this on Misha Herwin and commented:
    Another book for me to read and one I knew nothing about. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you like it if you read it 🙂

      Like

  3. I love Other Voices Other Rooms and The Grass Harp. I prefer the quieter side of Capote.

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    1. janetemson says:

      I’ve not read any of his, though I do have Breakfast at Tiffany’s somewhere. I’ll have to look up The Glass Harp too.

      Like

    1. janetemson says:

      Interesting that you had completely opposite thoughts about it. I’ll be honest, I’ve not read it, but I do love to see views from all sides. Thanks for sharing your review 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackie Law says:

    Brilliant idea. I love discovering quiet novels and shouting about them 🙂

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. It’s one of my favourite features. I love hearing about lots of books that would have passed me by otherwise. Let me know if you have any you want to shout about 😊

      Like

  5. Jackie Baldwin says:

    I hadn’t heard of this one, Janet but it sounds right up my street!

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  6. literaryeyes says:

    I have read this, years ago. It’s his most authentic work, and as the review says, written in a sensitive, haunting style. Along with his short piece, “A Christmas Story,” well worth the read.

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      Good to know! I’ll look it up.

      Like

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