Monday, June 29, 2009

The classic American novel you've never heard of

Jetta Carleton's not so well-known only novel The Moonflower Vine was a bestseller when it was published in 1962 and then quickly faded into oblivion. But from a look at Amazon reviews and, readers have nothing but praise for it. And one reader's love for the book eventually led to a resurrection of this forgotten classic.

From the St. Louis Riverfront Times: For a few months after its publication in December 1962, Carleton's novel, The Moonflower Vine, was one of the flowers of the literary world. It spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list. The reviews were rapturous. "Once in a great, great while comes a new book that makes you thankful you know how to read," wrote one besotted critic.

Aside from two brief paperback revivals in the late '70s and '80s, The Moonflower Vine was largely forgotten, except among the few readers who discovered musty copies at library sales or abandoned in vacation-rental homes. They formed a small, but passionate, cult. One of these acolytes was the novelist Jane Smiley, who included The Moonflower Vine on her reading list of 100 novels in her 2005 book, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. More ...

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