BTT: You Want Me to Read Who?

btt2Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

In general, I would like to see people read more short story collections. As far as authors go, my first pick is Raymond Carver. I was hoping especially that with the new Carver biography and the endorsement of a popular author like Stephen King, he would get more attention. Writers revere him, but he deserves a broader audience because he’s more than just a “writer’s writer.” He’s also an interesting study in the (sometimes harmful) influence an editor can have on an author’s work. I would suggest picking up the new Collected Stories.

Another author I have long admired and rarely see discussed on blogs is Antonya Nelson, who writes both short fiction and novels. Her collection Female Trouble is well-written, entertaining, insightful and accessible. As her novels go, I’d recommend Nobody’s Girl.

Tim O’Brien is another wonderful author who doesn’t seem to get his due. The Things They Carried should make every “Best Book of the Twentieth Century” list there is. It is one of the most telling books about war, and it reveals more than any documentary could hope to about the personal side of military conflict.

And finally, I’ve plugged it before and it can’t hurt to plug it again: Lee Martin’s The Bright Forever, which is both sad and wonderful.

I am off to find new authors for my TBR based on everyone’s suggestions. Happy Thursday!

Note: I welcome all BTT participants and your comments, if you have something interesting to offer in response to this post. Please do not leave a generic comment simply so you can post your own link. All participant links can be found at the Booking Through Thursday site. Thanks!

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18 comments

  1. Oh, I love Tim O’Brien, but I haven’t read his books since high school.

    Another good one of his is “Going After Cacciatto.”

    I’ve always wanted to read Raymond Carver, but never have gotten around to it…

  2. Michelle, I haven’t read Going after Cacciato, but I have read If I Die in a Combat Zone and In the Lake of the Woods (which I have on my re-read list for this year). I also have his novel July, July on my TBR stack. I hope you get around to Carver. You won’t regret it.

  3. I’ve seen the Tim O’Brien book show up on enough lists that I put it on the schedule for my book club this year. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

  4. I really should be ahold of some Raymond Carver. I confess that I’ve never read any of his short stories. This is a problem I can remedy.

  5. I’m ashamed to admit that Carver is the only name I recognized in your list. I agree, he’s a wonderful writer and deserves greater exposure to modern audiences.

  6. Melanie, it will be a great book for a book club discussion.

    CB, I would think you could even find some of his stuff online. Be careful, though: it’s very interesting, Carver’s stories on their own are much different than the ones edited by Lish. Carver mostly preferred his own versions, but Lish was very powerful. The Collected Stories should indicate the differences.

    Jennifer, you will not regret it. It’s such a sad and lovely book…

    MissMeliss, never be ashamed about something like that! Discovering new authors…that’s what book blogs are for! 🙂

    Matt, an easy way to remember: O’Brien is American, and Trevor is Irish. I love Trevor’s collection After Rain, by the way.

  7. I’m glad there’s someone other than me recommending short story writers!

    Am I safe in assuming you’ve read Robert Boswell–Nelson’s husband–as well? I didn’t make it all the way through his latest collection last summer, but the first story in the book impressed the hell out of me.

    Never heard of the Bright Forever–I’m off to check it out.

  8. Amy, I am happy to hear there’s another Carver admirer out there.

    SFP, yes…in particular, Crooked Hearts (which yes, is one of his novels, still…). In fact, I almost mentioned him in this post! If you like Boswell I think you will like The Bright Forever. Martin also has a collection, The End of Sorry, that’s got some great stuff in it.

  9. I’ve been trying to get people to read Tim O’Brien all year! I’m so surprised when people don’t know who he is and then I go on a mission to make sure they read him.

  10. Crooked Hearts is one of my most favorite books ever. And a couple of its chapters were originally published as short stories. . .

  11. I am a big fan of both Carver and O’Brien. Have not read anything by Antonya Nelson yet. Will definitely check out the novel you recommended. I think you might like (if I may be so bold) the book of short stories I just read: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy.

  12. Lu, we should start an awareness campaign! 🙂

    SFP, I did not know that about Crooked Hearts. You are one of the few people I know who has read it! I may need to re-read and discuss on the blog. It’s a prime example of fine novels that get lost in the shuffle. Did you know they made a movie out of it? I haven’t seen it…

    Sherry, I read Maile Meloy’s novel Liars and Saints, and I have been wanting to pick up her stories. Thanks for the recommendation (always be bold…I love suggestions).

  13. The Bright Forever was a beautifully written novel, and a tremendous story. A gem of a book.

    He has a second novel out – River of Heaven. Also very good.

  14. Becca, I have read River of Heaven. It was also good, but I love The Bright Forever. He has a another novel as well, Quakertown, which was actually published before The Bright Forever, and a memoir, From Our House, which is excellent. 🙂

  15. I own a VHS of Crooked Hearts. Noah Wylie makes a cute Ask, but it is definitely not a must-see.

    Jill’s Story and Edward’s Story were released as stories. One or both won an award–O. Henry, I think. I came across them after I’d already read Crooked Hearts, which I found in a remainder’s bin many years back.

    Ask is on the roof.

    Sigh.

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