#BlogTour #BookReview - The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you're dead.
So begins Christopher Fowler's foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.
Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner - no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.
These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.
This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.

It's my pleasure to kick off the blog tour for The Book of Forgotten Authors today. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater for inviting me, and for my advance copy received in return for my unbiased review.
Christopher Fowler has chosen 99 'forgotten' authors from his initial list of 400 and then rather cleverly managed to squeeze a few more in through the essays interspersed throughout book. Some authors will be completely forgotten to all but a few readers, some may just need to be nudged back into readers' memories, others are still remembered for certain titles but some of their other works may have disappeared from bookshop shelves, and in some cases the titles may now be more associated with films or television shows with the original author forgotten.
Each chapter is written like a potted biography, some of the authors had lives that could have come straight from a novel, others came from perhaps a more prosaic background but in all cases it's absolutely fascinating to read of their works and also reasons for their relative obscurity. In some cases there is probably a good reason for the author's fame to have diminished, while books can be excused in some way for being of their time, authors who perpetuated or even established certain stereotypes, those that espoused national supremacy and those that just wrote not very good books are best consigned to history. Others though deserve to be rediscovered, their titles having been forgotten perhaps due to the vagaries of social taste, because their books were ahead of their time, or because they themselves left the public eye, whether by choice or in some cases because of ill health or their (sometimes premature) death. The essays are no less compelling, each focused on a certain theme - authors who books were turned into Disney movies or the forgotten books of Charles Dickens for instance -  and bound to encourage further research by the reader.
Bibliophiles drawn to that gorgeous front cover will soon find themselves searching out the novels found within its pages. The Book of Forgotten Authors is delight to read; Christopher Fowler's enthusiasm is so infectious, many books will surely win new fans. My list of books to read is certainly now substantially longer, having already earmarked books by Kyril Bonfiglioli, Pamela Branch, Edmund Crispin, Maurice Richardson, Peter Tinniswood and T.H. White. With such an eclectic collection of authors even if one doesn't appeal, there are bound to be others who will intrigue readers of every literary persuasion. Christopher Fowler's dry, often acerbic wit cuts through, however and ensures this is no saccharine fluff piece extolling the virtues of every author contained within; the chapter on T. Lobsang Rampa for example is a funny and biting critique of the sort of person who laps up quasi-mysticism, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of complete bunkum.
'Doubts were quickly raised by Tibetan scholars; after all, the book included trepanation as a standard procedure for induction into priesthood, neophyte monks zipping about on giant kites and Rampa's meetings with both his mummified former incantation and an abominable snowman (I'm surprised Doctor Strange  didn't put in an appearance as well).'
More than just a reference book, The Book of Forgotten Authors is also a fascinating social history and a reminder of how vulnerable novels have been as art forms. Many book lovers reading this review will be nodding at his closing words,
'Books have the power to calm, enlighten and energize, but it seems to me that of all the arts they are most at risk. The easiest way to make reading effortless is to make books a habit, so that they become a retreat, a sanctuary, a call to arms.'
 Hopefully this book will encourage a new generation of readers for many of these authors and their titles will become not only popular again but, through ebooks, protected for future readers to enjoy.
 I know I'll continue to dip in to The Book of Forgotten Authors many more times and I'd thoroughly recommend it to all book lovers - it will certainly be a far more welcome gift this Christmas than many of those novelty titles that start to appear in the shops around now.

The Book of Forgotten Authors will be published in the UK on 5th October 2017 by riverrun books, an imprint of Quercus Books. Christopher Fowler can be followed on Twitter as @Peculiar.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour. Dates are below.

About the Author

A typical example of the late 20th century midlist author, Christopher Fowler was born in the less attractive part of Greenwich in 1953, the son of a scientist and a legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe's, where, avoiding rugby by hiding in the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest. He published his first novel, Roofworld, described as 'unclassifiable', while working as an advertising copywriter. He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.
 During this time Fowler achieved several pathetic schoolboy fantasies, releasing an appalling Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as the villain in a Batman comic, creating a stage show, writing rubbish in Hollywood, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.
 Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award-winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant & May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.
In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger In The Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as 'unsaleable'.
 Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.