Will Christopher Baer
Baer’s Phineas Poe trilogy, three loosely-connected novels about their titular dysfunctional detective, ache with Baer’s precise analogies, knife-like turns of phrase, and literary experimentalism that is so à propos as to make the novels unimaginable otherwise. Baer doesn’t stop there: His novels are deeply rooted in both the modernist and the noir traditions, and he marries both the solid storytelling and plot-centricity of the pulp novel and the language-driven psychoanalysis of James Joyce at his finest. Baer is a literary mastermind fit to usher in our favorite “authors out-of-the-mainstream.”
His novels have the intensity and thunder of Dostoevsky, the poetic lyricism of an English Romantic poet, and the aesthetic sensuality of a old French novel. The biography of this expatriate American author living in Paris is as interesting as any fiction. A traveler himself, his books focus on the quests individuals make in pursuit of living heroic lives. Payne’s fourth novel, Rooftop Soliloquy, was released in 2010 and secured for this young writer a place in Literature Monthly’s gallery of the Best Writers Out-of-the-Mainstream. Payne is at home with all sorts of literary genres, exploring the Bildungsroman, Classicism, the Picaresque Tradition, the European Adventure Novel. Payne is exciting to read and an author to watch in the future.
It’s conceivable that Wetlands, Charlotte Roche’s debut novel, might be misshelved in “young-adult” fiction – but one would hope that only those young-adult readers with strong stomachs, “mature” attitudes towards sex, and a premature taste for “literature” would find it. Roche, formerly a VJ on German MTV, published her so-far-only novel in 2008 to shock and consternation in the German press, and it was only a matter of time before something so gross, funny and, ultimately, moving made its way across the Atlantic. The novel comes in the form of the digressive and explicit ramblings of an eighteen-year-old girl who, confined to her hospital bed, proceeds to try to get her parents back together. What Chuck Palahniuk did for disenfranchised manhood in Fight Club, Wetlands does for femininity – in all its wonderful and disgusting details.
Stephen Graham Jones
His style borrows from bygone genres, but his intelligence and pure literary voice make him one of our picks for the best authors “out-of-the-mainstream.” Stephen Graham Jones is an associate professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder – not all that unusual for a literary writer. But he is also Blackfeet. He is also an avid player of Dungeons and Dragons and a fan of ‘80s hair metal. All of these disparate interests and influences come together in Jones’ novels, most famously exemplified by “All the Beautiful Sinners,” an American epic about three FBI agents and one reservation sheriff on the trail of a serial killer. But throughout Jones’ oeuvre, cultural strata, ranging from kitschy Americana to post-modernist style games, blend and mingle to create a truly original voice in American fiction.
It’s not just the young authors who are out-of-the-mainstream. French author, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, has been writing plays and novels since 1991, but it’s only now that he is becoming famous in the English-speaking world. But fame is coming quickly enough. His plays have now been staged in over 50 countries. His works are translated into over 40 languages. Schmitt covers a variety of topics in his works but one of his major focuses is world religion. A convert to Christianity, Schmitt has, in the past, dealt with a variety of different religions and the relationships between them in his works. His novella, “M. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran,” was adapted into an award-winning film in 2003 and, more recently, one of his short-story collections, “The Most Beautiful Book in the World,” was translated into English. Be prepared for great things from this author.