Moonflower Vine on the horizon

[asa book]0061673234[/asa] I haven’t mentioned NeglectedBooks.com in a while, probably because I hesitate to go there too often myself. Every time I do I get caught up for hours. Lists of great books that have been forgotten, often with images of the original dust covers (why am I so mezmerized by these? no idea) — what’s not to obsess about?

At any rate, NeglectedBooks has a lot of information on The Moonflower Vine — one of my all time favorite novels, long out of print — and its journey toward new release-dom. The new edition is published by Harper Perennial and will be available on March 24, 2009. (Clicking on the cover image above will take you to the Amazon order page.)

There’s  a short piece on the history of this novel in Publishers Weekly (via  Robert Nedelkoff):

by Lynn Andriani — Publishers Weekly, 2/2/2009

Books fall into obscurity all the time. If they’re lucky, someone rescues them and reintroduces them to a new audience—which is exactly what happened with The Moonflower Vine, a 1962 novel by Jetta Carleton, a one-hit wonder from Missouri who lived from 1913 to 1999. But in this case, it wasn’t just a person who rescued the long forgotten novel. With the help of a Web site called NeglectedBooks.com—and novelist Jane Smiley—The Moonflower Vine will be reissued by Harper Perennial in April, and will even benefit from a co-promotion with Vintage.
The Moonflower revival began when a small press contacted Carleton’s grandniece, Susan Beasley, telling her it wanted to reissue Moonflower, which is set on a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the 20th century. Beasley got in touch with agent Denise Shannon, who didn’t know the book but Googled it and wound up on NeglectedBooks.com, a site launched in 2006 that features thousands of books that have been, according to the site, “neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste.” Run by Brad Bigelow, who works as an IT project manager for NATO, the site features books with links to online sellers and also links to publishers who reissue books, like NYRB Classics, Paul Dry, Persephone and many others.
When NeglectedBooks featured Moonflower in December 2006, it had an endorsement from Jane Smiley, who also grew up in Missouri; Smiley had included it among the classics she discussed in her 2005 book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. Robert Gottlieb, former editor-in-chief of Knopf, had edited Moonflower, and later said, “Of the hundreds upon hundreds of novels I’ve edited, this is literally the only one I’ve reread several times since its publication.” When Moonflower was first published, it spent more than four months on the New York Times bestseller list. After reading about it on NeglectedBooks, literary agent Shannon—who’d never been to the site before—ordered it from a used bookseller. She loved it and went on to sell it to Terry Karten at Harper Perennial, along with five foreign publishers.
Smiley, whose novel Moo is just out in paperback from Vintage, wrote the foreword to the new edition of Moonflower, and will promote it along with her book when she goes on tour in April. “Jane has been like a fairy godmother for this book,” said Shannon. Smiley will participate in events in Missouri, tied in with the ReadMOre Festival, a statewide literacy program that has chosen Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (1991) as its 2009 selection. Copies of Moonflower, Moo and A Thousand Acres will be sold at all events.mondwinden

My only quibble here is that I claim to be the Fairy Godmother for this novel. I first read it in German in 1975 and then went through contortions to find the English language original, and ever since I have given away dozens of copies. Whenever I see one in a used book store, I buy it and press it on somebody. As I will press this new release on you all. I’ll be giving away some of the new edition as soon as they are available.

One thing I wish I had done  all along — scanned the various covers I’ve come across, which range from the abstractly gorgeous to the downright tacky.

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3 Replies to “Moonflower Vine on the horizon”

  1. My Mom has this one on her bookshelf, probably bought around the time of its original publication. I didn’t recognize it until I saw the German title, which always stuck in my mind, because it was so poetic.

    Judging by the summary, it would have been right down her alley, too. As a young woman, my Mom loved reading historical novels set in the US (she seemed to prefer Southern settings, though) and Asia.

    I’m glad to hear this novel is being rediscovered and reissued.

  2. You *are* the Fairy Godmother for this book. I found a hardback copy shortly after I read one of your blog posts about it. Wonderful book. And shoot, now I’m thinking I want to put it back on the top of my ‘to be read (again)’ pile. My grandma could use a copy too I bet.

  3. It sounds like a good book. I just found a used copy and am looking forward to adding it to my stack of books to read!

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