Secluded Shelf 5 — The 2015 Edition

Gimmicky logo hastily assembled

The time has come for another new blog feature that promises to occur regularly, but could just as easily fall into the online trash can as prey to my capricious whim!

Thus, without further delay, I present Secluded Shelf 5 — an annual list of 5 texts that I feel are criminally undervalued or have not yet had their place in the sun.

I went through a few adjectives, considering each before finally rejecting them: “unexposed” (sounded vaguely seedy, could turn up in the wrong kind of internet searches); “unrevealed” (sounded too esoteric and mystical); and “undisclosed” (if you’re posting your work on any publicly-accessible website, it’s hardly undisclosed).

A few caveats and disclaimers.

  • These 5 books are presented in no particular order — though numbered on the list, they are not ranked whatsoever.
  • These books have not necessarily been published during this year. They could hail from anywhere in the history of publishing. Again: capricious whim.
  • I will guarantee, however, that the font used to name the edition/year in the graphic will always be of questionable taste. That lower right shelf is forever reserved for underused, tacky typesetting.

Without any more ado…

SECLUDED SHELF 5 — 2015 EDITION

1.  No Light in August: Tales from Carcosa and the Borderland

by R.L. Robinson (with illustrations by Pedro Elefante)

"No Light in August"

This is a really well-written collection of short fiction. As promised in the title, the stories all connect in some way to the Lovecraftian motifs of the Yellow King/Carcosa and the Borderland. Moody, with just the right tone of language and detail. Also, the stories employ an excellent use of varied settings and spaces — from the dark-fantastic medieval to the overtly contemporary, yet often just ambiguous enough to maintain the air of the weird. Elefante’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment in style and content. If you are at all a fan of Chamber’s The King in Yellow, you should definitely read this collection. I hope that more attention gets paid to this work, and I’ll certainly be reading more by the author.

2.  Bad Glass

by Richard E. Gropp

"Bad Glass"

A fantastic, dark, surreal novel. Written in sparse, tight language, it tells the story of a photographer and his bizarre journey to explore a quarantined portion of Washington state. It put me in mind of a text-based take on the found-footage horror film genre. Especially nice were small touches, like the formatting and numbering of the chapters — one brief section describing a photo or object, then the following chapter that relates to that object. This disorienting story has immense impact, and will linger in your mind for a long while. Another one that definitely warrants purchasing right away.

3.  This Machine Kills Secrets: How Wikileakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information

by Andy Greenberg

"This Machine Kills Secrets"

A fascinating look at the crypto and cypherpunk worlds. The author balances anecdotal and historical information with technical explanations of encryption technology and theory, giving good insight into not only the idiosyncratic individuals who have shaped this revolutionary movement, but also the philosophies and principles on which the technologies are grounded. Absolutely worth reading.

4.  A Germ of Hope: Poems, 2001-2015

by Edward McLaughlin

"A Germ of Hope: Poems, 2001-2015"

These excellent poems are candid, genuine expressions of humanity. With clear and direct language, McLaughlin explores the joyful nuances and deep fears that make up our everyday lives. These poems speak to the gut and to memory and to the feelings that make us human. In the interest of full disclosure: the poet is a very good friend of mine. Still, my opinions of the work are completely sincere and honest, and well worth listening to. And since the collection is free to download, I can sleep well tonight knowing I’ve saved you some dough.

5.  A Delusion Come True

by Mark Saxer

"A Delusion Come True"

A great collection of strange and surreal stories. The first story (my favorite of the collection) will quickly draw you into convoluted theories and perplexing, questionable characters that act as the dizzying struts and witty pillars in this house of shards. Well worth the light cost of entry.

So there they are, folks. Please support these excellent writers by purchasing or downloading their work. And do join us next year for 5 more great books and 1 ridiculous font.

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