A blog I’ve started following is the superb Neglected Books. Its tagline says it perfectly – ‘where forgotten books are remembered’.
I find forgotten books so poignant. My wife thinks it’s because of my own fear of being forgotten. Maybe she’s right. But it’s so sad to see books which authors have poured their soul into lie unread and unloved in library stacks or dusty book exchanges, and even then only the sentimental kind that don’t throw out books which haven’t sold in a year.
A book seems such a declaration of hope, a pleading to be remembered. At the time of its publication, it is the newest thing; as far as it – the object, the text, the cover, the advertisements for other books in the back – are concerned, nothing has come after it. And this is how old books have a poignancy for me – as a snapshot of their date of publication, as an object that has come down through those years and into my hands.
I hate the way authors are so quickly forgotten in the cult of the new. One of my favourite writers, John Christopher, wrote on a discussion board how when you’re not in, you’re not in. His last novel, published at age 81 in 2003, sold badly. Where are all the people who grew up on his brilliant books? Why are they neglecting him now?
We can only remember so many, I guess. But I’ll keep devoting time to remembering some, at least. I want to discover the hidden treasures of neglected authors, and the Forgotten Books blog is an ally. (There is nothing quite like the smug aloneness of loving an author no-one else knows about. You become the author’s champion and friend.)