It is no secret that the literary market is saturated. So when there are millions of book titles entirely foreign for even the most avid reader, how do you go about sifting through them to find the gem? To find that dangerous diamond glinting in a consumerist pool of coal? The books that are so brilliant you can’t believe they are not better known!
In an industry overwhelmingly full, let’s cut out the middleman! Here are some great books that lack deserving appreciation.
Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black– Cookie Mueller
Mueller was an underground actress, writer, and Dreamlander, referring to the cast and crew of regulars John Waters used in his films. In high school, she hung out with the hippie crowd. Then went on to travel across the country. Living with vagrants, she settled in Provincetown, Massachusetts; British Columbia; San Francisco; Pennsylvania; Jamaica and Italy.
In 1969, she first met film director John Waters at his film Mondo Trasho. Mueller subsequently starred in Waters’ films. After her underground film status had faded, she moved to New York and put down stakes as a writer, journalist, and columnist.
As one can imagine, her colourful life meant a rainbow of a memoir. With only 150 pages, it isn’t enjoyable how fast it’s over. And the fact that it’s impossible to put down doesn’t help! Her tone is consistent throughout, making for an elementary read, but her stark bluntness never fails to amuse, shock and tease you.
The informality of Mueller never escapes the memoir! It feels like curling up with her and reminiscing about past events in a darkly humorous, playful light.
This book is a technicolour trip of magnificent life experience! Its exuberant descriptions, juxtaposing stark informality and brutal honesty, are breathtaking!
Anyone who starts their memoir with, “I had two lovers, and I wasn’t ashamed” couldn’t possibly disappoint!
The Dreamers (aka The Holy Innocents) – Gilbert Adair
The Holy Innocents is a marvellously tuned masterpiece, remarketed as The Dreamers to coincide with its movie release. A film that has acquired excellent cult status in recent years, while its origin as one of the most outstanding books you’ve probably never heard of, has yet to reach this esteem.
Think Paris! Think cinephiles! And think a young American abroad. But, if this alone hasn’t got you straight on Amazon, maybe the phrase “an unashamedly nostalgic love letter” to the Cinémathèque Française might intrigue you more!
It’s a keenly observant novella with prose so radiant it feels like poetry! Adair looks at coming of age with a depravity fitting to the dawn of a new world that rattles on the horizon. It is as violent as it is intimate. As sickening as it is sentimental.
Additionally, the ending pulls you out of a teenage paradise and into savage reality, much like the characters!
The White Bone– Barbara Gowdy
With an affinity for the unconventional, this Canadian author writes that she can transport you anywhere with such incredible assertion and urgency.
In the case of this book, it’s into the very minds and behaviours of a herd of elephants. Gowdy can encapsulate them with great empathy and truth! Conclusion: Readers get pulled so far into this herd; they begin to think and feel like a member.
Furthermore, the striking parallels between refugees and these elephants escaping their war-torn land will have you thinking more about humanity than animalistic-ally!
This novel’s earnest attempt to delve into and construct an elephant’s mind is nothing short of extraordinary! If you like a tearjerker, love animals or want to garner a better understanding of humanity, this is the book for you!
Book of Longing– Leonard Cohen
The late and great Leonard Cohen is known mostly nowadays for his songwriting. But did you know, years before he broke onto the music scene, he was a poet and novelist!
Cohen compiled 150 poems and song lyrics in his last published work Book of Longing. These were primarily written on Mount Baldy, California, where he spent 12 years as a Buddhist monk.
The lightest of all his works, Cohen attempts to say farewell to the past as he settles into his new life. But, unfortunately, all this mingled with a fury! Anger at the Bush administration, for instance, and the “new Pentagon warmongers.”
Many of the verses are momentary. However, Cohen has an astounding knack to fit a magnitude of emotion into two lines!
“You go your way, I’ll go your way too.”
He is aware of his subtleties and nuances. And how gut-wrenching they are, whether they make you laugh or cry. His incredible knack to turn anything, even a new butter dish shaped like a cow, into poetry is remarkable!
It’s a highly complex book filled with highs and lows. Never predictable. But always impeccably crafted as only Cohen knows how!