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Thread: 10 literary one-hit wonders

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Default 10 literary one-hit wonders

    One hit wonders as in novels. Many of these authors wrote in other formats.

    From The Times

    March 17, 2009
    10 Literary one-hit wonders

    Luke Leitch looks at those authors for whom one book was enough

    Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
    “I never expected any sort of success with [To Kill a] Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers, but at the same time I hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement - public encouragement. I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected.” To Kill a Mockingbird - The original Times review

    Margaret Mitchell - Gone With the Wind
    Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With The Wind in secret and gave it to an editor only after a colleague laughed at the idea of her writing a novel. It won a Pulitzer, inspired that film and sold tens of millions of copies. She died in 1949 in a car accident, on the way to the cinema. Gone with the Wind - The original Times review

    Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights
    Wuthering Heights is suddenly popular among French teenagers who have discovered Le Yorkshire thanks to the 21st-century vampire novels of Stephenie Meyer, which reference Bronte. Emily died of TB, the year after the publication of her only novel in 1847. See the very first Wuthering Heights advertisment in The Times

    J.D.Salinger - Catcher in the Rye
    Salinger is a member of the one-hit-wonder club only if you consider Franny and Zooey, published in 1961, as a novella. Salinger's last published work, a short story, appeared in The New Yorker in 1965.

    Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
    “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” Three of the characters in Wilde's only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray were based on Wilde himself. It was a little too racy for the critics of the times, and Wilde stuck with plays, poetry and short stories until his death a decade later.

    John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces
    The author committed suicide in 1969, having given up hope of seeing his comic masterpiece in print. Eventually it was published in 1980. A "second novel", The Neon Bible, followed in 1989 - but this was actually written by Toole as a teenager and, as an adult, rejected as juvenilia.

    Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar
    Published under a pseudonym, The Bell Jar's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, suffers a psychological breakdown while working as in an intern for a New York fashion magazine. She attempts suicide, receives therapy and steps back towards stability. Plath committed suicide in 1963, the year of the book's publication. The Bell Jar - The original Times review

    Anna Sewell - Black Beauty
    Anna Sewell's mother was a children's author but Sewell began her first novel aged 51. Black Beauty took six years to write and was intended, Sewell said, to encourage humane treatment of horses. She died in 1878, five months after its publication.

    Boris Pasternak - Dr Zhivago
    The manuscript of Dr Zhivago was smuggled out of Soviet Russia, published in Italy, and won Pasternak the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. He accepted but was then pressured to decline the prize. He died of lung cancer in 1960.

    Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
    After her debut novel The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize, the Indian writer turned to nonfiction writing and political activism. In 2007 she announced that she was returning to fiction. After a ten-year hiatus, the stakes will be higher than ever before - if Roy ever finishes her sophomore effort, it will be a triumph of will over the dreaded Second Novel Syndrome. Read an extract from The God of Small Things
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article5925834.ece
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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    It's a shame about some of these authors, because they had a lot more talent than at least 80% of the writers today.
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^
    there are some amazing writers working today.
    i don't think writers today or back in the day were any different. these books have been made classics, and 90% of what was published back then was basically crap and has been forgotten. the same will happen with literary production today.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    John Kennedy Toole was a genius. RIP.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    ^^^
    there are some amazing writers working today.
    i don't think writers today or back in the day were any different. these books have been made classics, and 90% of what was published back then was basically crap and has been forgotten. the same will happen with literary production today.
    Couldn't agree more. I've never really bought that literature or film of the past was fundamentally better than it is now - it's just that we're living now, so we're fully aware of and immersed in all the dreck, while the dreck of the past has been discarded and forgotten, as this era's will one day be.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

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    Elite Member azoria's Avatar
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    I think for some artists it is true that they have one great work to contribute and then the oasis goes dry.

    Sometimes one towering work of achievement is big enough and great enough that any following contributions are anticlimactic, a decline from the greatness. No sequel is necessary.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    John Kennedy Toole was a genius. RIP.
    True! Confederacy is on my list of ALL TIME FAVORITES. I wouldn't call him a one hit wonder since it was published posthumously.
    KILLING ME WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMNED HONEY!!!!!!!!!!

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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    ^^^
    there are some amazing writers working today.
    i don't think writers today or back in the day were any different. these books have been made classics, and 90% of what was published back then was basically crap and has been forgotten. the same will happen with literary production today.
    I agree, but there are thousands of books published literally every single day, and imo, most of them kind of suck. But yes, there are writers who are just as good today as some of the best ones in the last centuries. It's just that I see so many, many books out there selling for like $6 at Walmart, and a lot of them are kind of sucky and I wouldn't waste my time.
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    The Picture of Dorian Gray is AWESOME and so many books/films/TV shows rip part of the story off these days
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    Elite Member qwerty's Avatar
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    I've read all these books except for the Kennedy one. Most if not all were brilliant. It never occurred to me that these authors were not recognized beyond these works.

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    To Kill a Mockingbird is brilliant, and I wish Harper had written more. Based on what I've read and seen from the Capote movies, she didn't want the attention.

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    From what I understand Salinger has been writing and writing and writing up in NH and it's all in a vault awaiting his death. He hated the fame so wants it released when he isn't around to have to deal with it. I hope I'm alive when it happens.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^
    me too.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buttmunch View Post
    From what I understand Salinger has been writing and writing and writing up in NH and it's all in a vault awaiting his death. He hated the fame so wants it released when he isn't around to have to deal with it. I hope I'm alive when it happens.
    He's reclusive for sure. I went to college in the NH town where/around where he lives or lived at the time. You'd occasionally see him around town sitting on a bench keeping to himself. Nobody ever bothered him.

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    Saligner is in Shoeless Joe, the book that Field of Dreams is based on. In the movie, they made up Terrence Mann and had him played by James Earl Jones.

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