Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Long Tail: Janice Harayda and Bruce Allen

By Eric Banks

Over the past month we've been publishing the results of our Fall 2010 NBCC Reads survey, in which we asked our membership and past winners and finalists for out-of-print works of fiction or nonfiction that ought to be newly republished. Here are a couple of recent responses we received (click here to read all the responses).


Janice Harayda wrote, “I'd love to see Penguin reprint How to Be Well-Versed in Poetry (Viking hc, 1990; Penguin pap., 1992), compiled by E. O. Parrott, a book that explains most of the verse forms used in the English language via hundreds of brief, witty poems that embody those forms. A poem about heroic couplets by Martin Fagg begins: 'A form with very tight parameters, / Heroic couplets use pentameters.' And a poem about the clerihew, invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, says: 'E.C. Bentley/Quite accidently/Invented this verse form of wit/And this is it.' How to Be Well-Versed in Poetry isn't just highly entertaining — it's a wonderful tool for teaching poetry.


“I would also rejoice if Oxford University Press reprinted its one-volume paperback edition of the complete novels of Jane Austen. There is a desperate need for a compact, one-volume paperback edition of all Austen's novels, published by anyone; Penguin has one, but it doesn't quite fill both because the trim size is too large, it's a little to heavy, and it has errors, none of which married the OUP edition. The OUP volume on Austen was part of a series, tragically out of print, that also collected all the work or the major work of other authors.”

Meanwhile, NBCC member Bruce Allen wrote: “I have two suggestions: (1) Calder Willingham's great, neglected 1960 novel Eternal Fire, which did for sex in the dear old southland what War and Peace did for Russia at peace and war during the Napoleonic period; and Harvest of the Lowlands (1945), a generous anthology of literary prose written by modern Dutch authors, most of whom remain neglected or completely unknown to this day, in spite of the heroic efforts of publishers like Archipelago, Dalkey Archive, New Directions, and Open Letter, among a few others. This latter title––whose entire contents appear to be available online (who knew ?)––offers a virtual education in one of the major modern literatures; and it belongs in every self-respecting bookworm's library.”