Sunday, November 06, 2011

One Hit Wonders

By Jamie Freveletti

My last post talked about an author that wrote one amazing book and never wrote another and I got to thinking--who is a one hit wonder and why? We hear them all the time when dealing with songs, so what makes an author write one (or two) and then walk away?

For those who missed the last post, the one hit there was Zemindar, an epic story about the Sepoy Mutiny in India 1857. Valerie Fitzgerald wrote an amazing story and never wrote another. I compared this book to Gone With The Wind, and...guess what--Margaret Mitchell only published GWTW during her lifetime. Another manuscript was found after her death. Seems as though for these two authors one epic historical novel was enough. Perhaps the research required was just too taxing, or they thought they would be unable to top the earlier work.

I did a quick google search and found that some of our most famous novels are one hit wonders. From the well known To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man the list is distinguished.

I've also found great books by writers writing under a pseudonym who then give it up. I remember reading Stephen King's Thinner written as Richard Bachman and wondering "this writer is great, why doesn't anyone know about him?" Ha!  Joke was on me.

Without a doubt, creating a novel is a labor of love and work and I can understand someone having done it, done it well, and then deciding to move on to another medium. Apparently this is what Oscar Wilde did after The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Which makes me think--are there any great books that you've read that never received the acclaim you think they deserved? These novels were "one" but not a "hit?" I'd love to learn about them and add them to my "to be read" pile!
















12 comments:

KateH said...

'Border Songs' by Jim Lynch and two by Spider Robinson - 'Very Bad Deaths' and 'Very Hard Choices' are books that I wish more people knew.

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Kelly Robinson said...

'The Cook' by Harry Kressing. Out-of-print, hard-to-find, but man is it creepy. I re-read it every so often.

Jamie Freveletti said...

KateH and Kelly: Thank you! I'll head to the Chicago Public Library for both (especially the Kressing out of print-Chi Pub usually can track one down for me).

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