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.
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.