If, like me, you have sold or lost a favorite book and, no matter how hard you try, cannot find a replacement volume in some second-hand bookshop, dime rack, or yard sale, then you will probably be delighted to hear about Valancourt Books, which publishes a fabulous selection of lost classics, well-loved out-of-print novels, and neglected works of literature.
Valancourt Books are not only saving these authors for another generation, it is publishing books that seriously demand to be read. Let’s take a cue from cult novelist Michael Moorcock, who wrote this about the publishers:
Valancourt Books are fast becoming my favourite publisher. They have made it their business, with considerable taste and integrity, to put back into print a considerable amount of work which has been in serious need of republication. Their list has been compiled by editors who know their stuff, bringing back into the light a raft of books I, for one, have been waiting years to read! If you ever felt there were gaps in your reading experience or are simply frustrated that you can’t find enough good, substantial fiction in the shops or even online, then this is the publisher for you!
Even the Times Literary Supplement got in on the act, stating:
Valancourt Books specializes in new editions of rare and sometimes almost entirely forgotten fiction from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. These are not cheap reprints: the “Classics” range comes annotated with scholarly introductions and, in some cases, contextualizing appendices. […] Valancourt Books is to be lauded for the scope of its ambition. It will spare scholars and the atmosphere many long-distance journeys to university and copyright libraries, and makes available to the lay enthusiast some curious marginalia from the history of the novel.
No mean praise there. And I have certainly found many of my favorite authors here, including John Blackburn, whose novel Broken Boy is a chilling, dark classic. It was truly a shame that Blackburn was all but forgotten until his rediscovery by Valancourt Books. Blackburn wrote such damnably good novels as A Scent of New Mown Hay, and Nothing But the Night, which was made into a rather disappointing film—just read the book and you’ll see what I mean.
But it’s not just thrills; there’s the sadly neglected author David Storey, whose early novel This Sporting Life was filmed by Lindsay Anderson. Storey also wrote plays (In Celebration and Home being the most notable) and several award-winning novels, in particular Pasmore, and the Booker Prize-winning Saville.
We’re just getting started; other writers whose works have been saved from literary limbo include J. B. Priestley, John Braine, Hilda Lewis, Gillian Freeman, Gerald Kersh, Jennifer Dawson, Keith Waterhouse, and Colin Wilson. There’s a wide selection of lost Gothic literature, gay fiction and nonfiction, and a diverse selection of modern novels. Don’t take my word for it—go have a browse, and I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.
More covers from Valancourt Books, after the jump…..