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Old 04-09-2012, 12:45 PM   #16
Synamon
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I'm not sure if this is obscure enough, but with only a few hundred downloads on Project Gutenberg I'll throw it out there. Hunger by Knut Hamsun. Hamsun won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1920 for The Growth of the Soil. Hunger is an early work, written in 1890. The public domain version was translated from Norwegian by Mary Chavelita Dunne using the alias George Egerton, but you can find later translations by Robert Bly and Sverre Lyngstad.

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Written after Hamsun's return from an ill-fated tour of America, Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. Set in late 19th century Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis.
This haunting book was the best thing I read last year and it felt very modern.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:58 PM   #17
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I'll use my last option to nominate Memoirs of a Midget by Walter De La Mare. The author is known primarily for his strange stories, poetry, and writings for both adults and children. His masterpiece, however, may well be this extraordinary novel which not many even know about--let alone bother to read. Here is a selection from a review of it from The Observer:

". . . the reader will be charmed and amazed by this odd, creepy tale, which is a gripping account of a young woman enduring a confined life of quiet desperation. Miss M is intelligent and observant, with a profound sensitivity to nature, but she is also tortured by an unrequited, obsessive love for Fanny, the horrible daughter of one of her guardians - "With a silly, animal-like affection I brushed purposely against Fanny's skirts" - which drags her into despair and near-madness.

"De la Mare's preoccupation with the Brontës is unsubtle . . . . But Memoirs of a Midget is a triumphant work of fiction: a portrait of a complex heroine who the reader will ultimately find quite as compelling as Jane or Cathy."

Memoirs of a Midget is available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg.

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Old 04-09-2012, 01:43 PM   #18
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I'll second Hunger and Memoirs of a Midget. I read Memoirs a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:11 PM   #19
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Why not list some of them anyway? I'd love to see what you've come up with.
Me too. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been adding nominated items to their TBR list. I have bought or also read a few of the books that haven't won. I am getting lots of great reading recommendations from this book club!
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:55 PM   #20
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I'll third Hunger.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:10 PM   #21
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Why not list some of them anyway? I'd love to see what you've come up with.
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Me too. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been adding nominated items to their TBR list. I have bought or also read a few of the books that haven't won. I am getting lots of great reading recommendations from this book club!
Well, it is all Italian authors of the past century:

"That Awful mess of via Merulana", by Carlo Emilio Gaddda - I've found a write up here

The original title in Italian is "Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana", in Roman slang, and I can imagine it must be very hard in translation (from what I read on Amazon, some people really suffered through it). The action takes place in the fascist pre-war years (published just after the war on a literary magazine, then a few years later again as a stand alone book), is a sad satire of Italian society in those years. The literary virtuosism is in his use of language, and I guess that may be lost in translation.

Another one is "The path of the nests of spiders" (original title "Il sentiero dei nidi di Ragno"), by Italo Calvino. Calvino, who famoulsy (for us Italians) did not win the Nobel, is probably not obscure as an author, but this is an early novel of his and quite differend in style from the rest of his production. It is really beautiful grappling with the inner contradiction of the Italian "Resistenza " (the partisans opposing the fascists during WWII) through the eyes of a young adolescent who joins a group of partisans.

Then there is "The cutting of the wood" by Carlo Cassola: it is a collection of short stories, but for me the title story stands out, it is powerful and heart wrenching, it looks like there is not much happening until the very end, jsut a couple of wodcutters in the wood, but at the end his portrayal of what love, loss and sorrow mean is haunting.

I'll stop here as otherwise I could go on forever, I just love 20th century Italian literature, but if you have questions I'd be happy to help (as far as my limited knowledge goes, though)!

Coming to us, I will fourth Hunger.

As my actual nomination, I was tempted to go for The butcher boy, by Patrick McCabe, but then thought that perhaps it is not obscure at all (it won the Man Booker prize here in the UK): do you know it? If not, I will tell you more about it and nominate it properly.

Last edited by paola; 04-09-2012 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:01 PM   #22
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As my actual nomination, I was tempted to go for The butcher boy, by Patrick McCabe, but then thought that perhaps it is not obscure at all (it won the Man Booker prize here in the UK): do you know it? If not, I will tell you more about it and nominate it properly.
Yes, I have read it, and enjoyed this quirky novel. I'm not sure I'd call it obscure, though outside the UK it may well be considered such.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:13 PM   #23
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I third Memoirs of a Midget.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:18 PM   #24
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We now have four fully nominated selections and looking for one more.

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As my actual nomination, I was tempted to go for The butcher boy, by Patrick McCabe, but then thought that perhaps it is not obscure at all (it won the Man Booker prize here in the UK): do you know it? If not, I will tell you more about it and nominate it properly.
I know about it; I haven't read the book but I've seen the film. Others may not have heard of it before though.

Now that you've reminded me of it, I would love to read it, so if the consensus seems to be that it's obscure enough, I'll second it.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:28 PM   #25
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Actually, I'll just go ahead and nominate The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe to get the ball rolling on it. It's not exactly obscure to me but I'd think it would be to most people, though I don't know. It's hard for me to tell how "obscure" it is to everyone else, so if there is a consensus against it being obscure I'll withdraw it.

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From Amazon:

"When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs. Nugent."

Thus begins Patrick McCabe's shattering novel The Butcher Boy, a powerful and unrelenting journey into the heart of darkness. The bleak, eerie voice belongs to Francie Brady, the "pig boy," the only child of and alcoholic father and a mother driven mad by despair. Growing up in a soul-stifling Irish town, Francie is bright, love-starved, and unhinged, his speech filled with street talk, his heart filled with pain...his actions perfectly monstrous.

Held up for scorn by Mrs. Nugent, a paragon of middle-class values, and dropped by his best friend, Joe, in favor of her mamby-pamby son, Francie finally has a target for his rage--and a focus for his twisted, horrific plan.

Dark, haunting, often screamingly funny, The Butcher Boy chronicles the pig boy's ominous loss of innocence and chilling descent into madness. No writer since James Joyce has had such marvelous control of rhythm and language... and no novel since The Silence Of The Lambs has stunned us with such a macabre, dangerous mind.


(paola, if you'd like to give a different description of it to use, post it and I'll use it instead)
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:55 AM   #26
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OK - I'll fourth Hunger.
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:18 AM   #27
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Second The Butcher Boy while thinking of something which will be more obscure then - though I suspect we'll get to the five nominated books before then
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(paola, if you'd like to give a different description of it to use, post it and I'll use it instead)
you saved me the effort
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:37 AM   #28
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Oh - I realised that Hunger was already fourth'd. So I'll fourth Memoirs of a Midget instead.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:40 PM   #29
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We now have five fully nominated selections and nominations are complete.

The voting poll will be up shortly.
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