Overlooked Masterpieces of the 20th Century


Adam de la Halle: Jeu de la Feuillee

Adam: Do you know, Gentlemen, why I've changed my outfit?
I'm fulfilling an old dream: I've lived the married life
but now I'm going back to school

 Scarron: The Comic Romance

"With his journey more than half complete, his chariot having reached the downward slope of the world, the Sun moved faster than he wanted." 

Mary Shelley: The Last Man

"Letter One To Mrs Saville, England ... You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you regarded with such evil forebodings." 

Even more prophetic than her most famous work plus, the inside story on literature's most scandalous threesome.




John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court 

" 'There was a man lived by a churchyard-' is an intriguing beginning for a story left unfinished. Edward Stevens also lived by a churchyard, in more senses than one: which is the soberest possible statement of the fact."

With props to a fellow Haverford grad

Locked door murder mystery.

 John Franklin Bardin: The Deadly Percheron

"Jacob Blunt was my last patient. He came into my office wearing a scarlet hibiscus in his curly blond hair. He sat down in the easy chair across from my desk, and said, 'Doctor, I think I'm losing my mind.' " 

Noir murder mystery

Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination
This was a Gold Age, a time of high adventure, rich living and hard dying... but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice ... but nobody admitted it. This was an era of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks ... but nobody loved it."

Science Fiction

Kathe Koja Skin

Dust. Above a party store. LIQUOR, LOTTO, keno machines fed by the poorest of the poor with coins rattled black by pocket tumbling, machine sounds nervous as a nervous cough. Grit-rimmed eyes, grit beneath her nails like powdered bone, fresh solder burn on her inner wrist...


Charles G. Finney: The Circus of Dr. Lao

"In the Abalone (Arizona) Morning Tribune for August third there appeared on page five an advertisement eight columns wide and twenty-one inches long. In type faces grading from small pica to ninety-six point the advertisement told of a circus to be held in Abalone that day,..."


 T. H. White: Mistress Masham's Repose

"Maria was ten years old. She had dark hair in two pigtails, and brown eyes the color of marmite, but more shiny, She wore spectacles for the time being, though she would not have to wear them always, and her nature was a loving one."

Children's books 

Novala Takemoto Kamikaze Girls

"A true Lolita must nurture a Rococo spirit and live a Rococo lifestyle."

YA Fiction 



Amos Tutuola: The Palm-Wine Drinkard

"I was seven years old before I understood the meaning of "bad" and "good", because it was at that time I noticed carefully that my father married three wives as they were doing in those days, if it is not common nowadays."

Yoruba English

Osamu Dazai: No Longer Human

"Mine has been a life of much shame.
I can't even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being."

Patty Smith visited his grave in Japan


Ramon del Valle-Inclan: Tyrant Banderas

"That night the Creole rancher Filomeno Cuevas had armed his peons with rifles stashed by a jungle creek."


Platonov: The Fierce and Beautiful World

Nazar Chagatayev, a young man, not a Russian, walked into the courtyard of the Moscow Institute of Economics. ..... He had been walking through this courtyard for several years, it was here his youth had gone, but he did not regret it.



William Gaddis: Recognitions

"Even Camilla had enjoyed masquerades, of the safe sort where the mask may be dropped at that critical moment it presumes itself as reality."

It's over 900 pages long. Some sentences snake their way through 2 full pages. After page 400 the author stops identifying characters by name. It's got bestiality, cannibalism and art forgery. 

 John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance

"At the striking of noon on a certain fifth of March, there occurred within a causal radius of Brandon railway station and yet beyond the deepest pools of emptiness between the uttermost stellar systems one of those infinitesimal ripples in the creative silence of the First Cause which always occur when an exceptional stir of consciousness agitates any living consciousness in this astronomical universe." 

C. S. Lewis, George Steiner and Henry Miller all liked him so he must have been doing something right. 1120 pages.

Donald Barthelme: The Dead Father 

"Eleven o'clock in the morning. The sun doing its work in the sky. 
The men are tiring, said Julie. Perhaps you should give them a break.
Thomas made the "break" signal waving his arm in a downward motion.
This grand expedition, the Dead Father said, this waltz across an unknown parquet, this little band of brothers... 
You are not a brother, Julie reminded him. Do not get waltzed away." 

 Katherine Dunn: Geek Love 

"When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets." Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing."

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