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on 8 January 2013
How do we decide what to read next? For me there are a number of ways, recommendations from Amazon, books by authors I've enjoyed previously, friends suggestions, to mention just a few.
This book though opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and with it brings a load of interesting snippets which highlight how fickle the whole industry sometimes is.
The author, Christopher Fowler, is one of my favourites, and has a blog site from which I'd already been introduced to one or two of the authors here, for example: HERE [away from it all]
This book has around 100 different authors all of whom at some point were popular, but are lesser known if at all now. The inclusions are in some parts from a newspaper column written by the author, but collected together they make a great dip and out resource, and an interesting starting point for searching for further reading.
Now, if only I could get it on the Kindle too so I could more easily bookmark the ones I want to follow up when I'm looking round old bookshops!
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on 26 January 2013
Always interested in the IoS articles, and good to have them in permanent form. What a wealth of research must go into these weekly pieces. I have discovered several names from the past well worth reading or re-reading. But oh how badly the book needs an index – or even just a list of writers!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 March 2014
Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared is a marvellous little book and a trove of inspiration. I heartily recommend it. Where Christopher Fowler really succeeds is in making each entry amusing, enticing, and intriguing, and, as a consequence, he made me want to read something by virtually all of them.

The book consists of 100 short, snappy pen pictures of all manner of forgotten writers (or forgotten books by well known writers) taken from a series of articles originally written by Christopher Fowler for The Independent newspaper.

Each writer gets a couple of pages and they range from the very well known (e.g. Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson) to the unlikely (Arnold Ridley aka Godfrey in BBC TV 1970s sitcom Dad's Army - who fought in both World Wars and was also an author).

What the hundred authors all have in common is that at some stage in their literary careers they sold in sizeable quantities and yet subsequently some, or all, of their books are now all but forgotten, or at best just remembered by their hardcore fans.

So why do some books and authors fall out of favour whilst others go on to enjoy longevity? The answer, according to Christopher Fowler, is far more arbitrary than you might imagine: fashion, economics, luck, film adaptations, and many other variables might play a part. What is clear is that the majority of authors eventually disappear, including those whose books become touchstones for many of our lives.

In this world of e-publishing and niche publishers there is now far more likelihood of being able to source a digital or republished editions of books that might otherwise be out of print. As I read through Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared I made notes of books and authors I wanted to investigate (and despite trying my utmost to be discerning the total list came to 32 books), and virtually all could be bought cheaply second hand, or in a reasonably priced e-book edition. Isn't the internet wonderful?
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on 31 March 2013
This is a great guide to missing and underappreciated authors, some of whom were once popular and have since fallen from fashion and others who seem to have fallen between the cracks and never enjoyed such acclaim. As this is essentially a series of reprinted articles from a newspaper column, the style and length can feel rather samey. However, Fowler writes with the enthusiasm of a fan and the style of a pro. Therefore, these short, sharp essays enthuse the reader with a sense of why the writers are worth revisiting and what their unique selling points were. As others have noted, some of the authors are obscure whilst others are more well-known and have hidden in plain sight since publication. This matters not and the book certainly does the trick of setting the reader off on a book hunt, either online or, hopefully, through the second-hand bookshops that have survived the migration of many such businesses to the online world. And, who knows, if the reader hits the second-hand shops, they may well rediscover some invisible ink of their own. Great stuff, but a point knocked off for the absence of a contents list or index.
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VINE VOICEon 11 January 2013
This tiny paperback is a collection of columns written by Christopher Fowler on the subject of 100 authors who "disappeared" - those who maybe published a handful of books but then nothing more, or who fell out of fashion, or who produced great work but were unknown to the majority of readers. Many of those included in the book are almost unknown, and despite being pretty well read I'd not heard of the majority included here, but there are some strange inclusions such as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde, featured as they are known for some of their work but wrote other books which have since disappeared or aren't as famous, and also BS Johnson who wrote a few acclaimed works but then committed suicide, which to me, as with those authors who wrote great books late in life and then died, doesn't really count as disappearing. "Invisible Ink" is the kind of book you're likely to dip into, read a page, and then move on to something else, rather than read in one go as I did on a train journey.

There are two frustrating things that spoiled the book for me. Firstly as the book is a collection of columns from a newspaper the pieces are all the same length, written to a word count, and they often feel too short - just as the story of the author is getting interesting it suddenly ends, and you wish there was more. In several of the pieces we read the back-story of the author, a little about their work, and then it seems to end with "but then they died and their work is now out of print." It would have been nice if Fowler had maybe revisited some of the pieces and extended them for the book, but alas this isn't the case. Secondly there were lots of books and stories mentioned which I would love to read after hearing of them here, but as they're out of print this is impossible! It's a bit like if somebody told you about a fantastic restaurant, describing great meals they've had there, but then add "anyway, it closed down years ago" at the end. Fowler often mentions that the books are available online, but sometimes for ridiculous sums (one is quoted as being over £250), or have been reprinted in special editions which are also extremely expensive.

A quick, interesting read, but one which I found a little frustrating. If only I could read more of the books it features!
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on 18 April 2014
A brilliant idea. I'd heard (just about) of roughly half the authors featured here, and was particularly pleased to find Dorothy Whipple, who has been rediscovered by Persephone and is a great favourite. It's also, of course, depressing to reflect on the state of publishing and the ease with which good writers disappear. I'll look up those who sound interesting, and suspect I might prefer some of them to Henry James and Virginia Woolf. Why only four stars instead of five? Because I would have liked to see something about Geoffrey Trease, a wonderful author for children whose works were very popular in the 1950s, and the crime writer Roy Vickers, who did some superlative short stories.
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on 9 March 2013
This is an interesting and amusingly written collection of articles (from The Independent) about authors, or a body of work, that have, for some reason, been forgotten. Christopher Fowler brings them back to our notice here. Certainly there are some new names that I'll be looking for! So why not 5 stars? The version I have is the Kindle version, so I can't speak for the print version, but there are a few typographical errors that are annoying, especially when they are in the names of the authors.
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on 1 January 2016
Although I've not previously heard of many of these authors, Mr. Fowler cheats a bit by including lesser known works of very well known authors, such as Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. I'm disappointed that Warwick Deeping, Gilbert Frankau and Dornford Yates, all of whom were prolific and wrote best-sellers in the 1920s and 30s.
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on 2 June 2014
Fowler cover a huge range of writers, some more forgotten than others. I was reminded of old loves and introduced to writers that I want to try. I read it pretty much at a sitting and am looking forward to a follow-up volume
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on 18 March 2013
A very interesting and stimulating revisit of wonderful authors, some familiar and some to be sought out. You will love to be reminded.
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