A Twofer

TalkOne Hit Wonders

Join LibraryThing to post.

A Twofer

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Sep 30, 2006, 8:08am

I'd include Edgar Lee Masters and Ken Kesey -neither of whom I have on my shelves!

Sep 30, 2006, 8:37pm

I disagree, kencf. You can't include Kesey. I've read two of his books that I enjoyed very much. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion. And if you click on the link to his name you'll see he's written a whole bunch of others.

I did just finish reading Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and it gives several plausible reasons why she may have chose not to publish again.

Oct 1, 2006, 8:48am

I'm curious. What reasons are those, clamairy?

Oct 1, 2006, 10:37am

Well, his main hypothesis was that she became overwhelmed by the fame that resulted from just how big a hit the book was. It won the Pulitzer and was chosen by the Literary Guild, (which was a very big deal in those days) among other accolades. She did work on a second book for quite some time, but after her editor died she didn't trust anyone else to tweak the book with her. Another possibility is that she saw what fame did to her long time friend Truman Capote, and it scared her. She allegedly worked on another book, that was non-fiction.

According to Charles Shields Lee told someone not too long ago that she has forgiven herself for not publishing again, and has enjoyed her life. The fact remains that she did write for years, she may even still be writing. She just hasn't chosen to publish any of it. I wonder if any of it will be published posthumously. Part of me would love to see it, but the other part of me has complete respect for her wishes to keep her writing private.

Oct 1, 2006, 3:06pm

I haven't read either of Kesey's major works, or any of his stuff for that matter, but he is indeed best known for two books. I presumed, perhaps wrongly, that either One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Sometimes a Great Notion qualified as his one-hit wonder. His own twofer?

Here's another I haven't read, but my Dad had it on his shelf: Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, which is apparently the great Jewish immigrant NYC slum novel. I was flipping through it the other day at a coffee house -I hadn't seen it or thought of it since childhood. The guy had put his all into it!

Oct 1, 2006, 8:57pm

I read Call It Sleep in college, and it's one of those books that really stuck with me. I just looked up Henry Roth on wikipedia, and apparently he wrote the book and then gave up writing for about 60 years. However, he then published short stories and four novels out of a six-novel cycle (Mercy of a Rude Stream), of which the last two are in manuscript form but as yet unpublished.

Nov 7, 2006, 11:38am

All About H. Hatterr by G. V. Desani is a brilliant one-off, a picaresque comedy written in pun-rich Indian-English. As far as I know it was his only novel and it's largely forgotten now.

Oct 20, 2007, 10:41pm

well, there is always John Kennedy Toole, who died with "A confederacy of Dunces" unpublished. His mother, Thelma, took up the crusade and it was published and now is a modern classic, as well as a National Book Award winner for that year.

A little known writer who wrote delicious southern gothic novels was Wyatt Wyatt. His titles were "Catching Fire" about a Winter Park native who had pigskin grafted onto 3/4 of his body after being badly burned, and "Deep in the Heart" where the drunk Grady bites the head off a barkeeper's parrot in retaliation for cutting him off.

There are many writers, too, who published 10 or more books,but either had one "hit" or none at all. One such is the late Stephen Becker, who is best known for his one non-fiction effort, "Comic Art in America." (or is it the History of Comic Art? Whatever.) also, he had moderate success with "A Covenant with Death."

Dec 18, 2007, 12:08pm

Kesey was writing '...Great Notion' in the midst of the Merry Prankster adventure. It took him forever. I think it was a fine book, but following on the heels of 'Cuckoo's Nest' it didn't do so well. If he had edited it down, maybe... Then it would be a lesser book.

Anyway, when I saw this group all I could think of was 'The Phantom Toll Booth.' Juster did publish a little book called 'The Dot and the Line' but that's all I'm aware of. Tollbooth ranks right up there with 'The Wizard of Oz' and Carroll's Alice books in my opinion. In ways it surpasses them. Also reminds me of Harry Nillson's 'The Point.'

10goldsteph First Message
Feb 1, 2008, 2:45pm

I just finished part I of Mercy of a Rude Stream, and it was amazing. I've ordered parts 2-4 and eagerly await them. If you're interested in Roth, there's a very well written article on him in the New Yorker online archives. It explains all about his fallow 60 years (though it gives a bit away about some of Mercy that might be better enjoyed as the author chooses to reveal them).

Feb 1, 2008, 8:14pm

There was a very popular book & movie called Knock on any door The author was African-American. I kept looking for other books by him, but never found any.

Feb 2, 2008, 1:58am

I really like Ken Kesey's The Last Go-Round, a fictionalized biography of Nez Perce bronc rider Jackson Sundown. I thought it was a brilliant portrait of turn of the century attitudes toward Native Americans.