Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top 10 Literary One-Hit Wonders ...

From: Listverse.com For full descriptions of the books, please visit their site.

"This is a list of ten great writers that are famous for one novel and one novel alone. Some of them have written additional short stories or poetry and in a couple of cases additional novels (none of which are well known or ever rose to the prominence of their main work). Here are the top 10 literary one hit wonders."

10. Black Beauty Anna Sewell

9. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

8. The Devil in the Flesh Raymond Radiguet

7. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

6. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust

5. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

4. The picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde

3. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

2. Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger

1. Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak


Now anyone who has undertaken even mildly serious literary study has probably read most of the books on this list, and for good reason. They are brilliant literary masterpieces. Me, well, I read all of these before I even graduated high school. Most of the books on this list were part of the honours-English literary curriculum when I went to school. That was all we did: read books, write essays, and discuss voice, technique, and interpretation, but that is not why I decided to mention this on the peeps. I don’t know about most writers, as in: what exactly goes on in their creative minds, but I do know what goes on in mine, and more specifically, I am all too familiar with the creative struggle. I have also struggled with the needling question that lies lurking in the deepest recesses of most creative minds: Why, when, and how does the muse strike us? Now, I try not to obsess over such things simply because it can be an overwhelming distraction, but from time to time, I wonder -- silently, agonizingly -- if the story I am working on at the moment will be my last. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s there, nonetheless. I can’t escape it, and I hope I will never have to put the pen down, but I also hope that if it does come that time, I will have the strength to do it with dignity.


Shannon Yarbrough said...

Great post! I'll definitely be cross posting this just to keep a record of it. Although quite obvious, isn't it interesting how almost all of these authors suffered from physical illness, mental illness, loneliness and solitude, alcoholism, imprisonment, the list goes on and on...and I can think of at least a few dozen other writers not on this list, and writers still around today, who have suffered the same. Strange how sometimes our best work comes from the tragedy we have suffered, no?

Mick Rooney said...


Wonderful post. I think Shannon may have hit on something. If you want to write a great novel - do the following.

1. Break your ankle
2. Write your only book as a 14yr old or about one.
3. Live in a permanent state of destitution and hunger.
4. Get arrested for something or at least locked away somewhere for a while.
5. Leave your homeland and then get deported - that sorts the exile and expulsion bit!
6. Become a recluse
7. Commit suicide.
8. Finally, win Pulitzer.

Now, let me see, which ones can I do...


Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

I have plain ole garden variety artistic dementia: pacing the house while talking to myself as I act out scenes from my novellas, post-it notes with words I like scribbled all over the place, and all those little one-subject notebooks that crazy people use lying about and filled with incomprehensible chicken scratch. I don't usually drool though, it's bad for the keyboard.

So I guess I will never make the list.

I used the Dorian Gray cover because, out of the list, that was my personal favorite.

Anonymous said...

Mary DeBorde
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

There is no logo on this post for the mystery book contest. Only posts with the podpeep logo qualify.

Anonymous said...

Some others:

- Evgeny Zamyatin, "We"
- William Burroughs, "Naked Lunch" (he wrote a great deal more besides, but this was the only one that mattered)
- Lautréamont, "Maldoror"