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Cult fiction

Parent categories: cult - fiction - literature

Bibliography and connoisseurs: Anthology of Black Humor (1940) - André Breton * Classic Cult Fiction (1992) - Thomas Reed Whissen * Cult Fiction: Popular Reading and Pulp Theory (1998) - Clive Bloom * Cult Fiction: A Reader's Guide (1998) - Andrew Calcutt * The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) - various

Publishers of cult fiction: Grove Press - Olympia Press - more publishers

Genres of cult fiction: erotic ficion - genre fiction - grotesque literature - horror fiction - meta fiction - science fiction - transgressive fiction - underground literature

These are books that have survived and gone through quite tough times in order to survive. In some ways I would like to be strict and say a cult book needed to have been out of print at some point for at least 10 years, but I don't think that's possible. People now describe books as 'cult' on publication. --Toby Litt

The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) (Paperback) - Michaela Bushell, Helen Rodiss Paul Simpson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Cult fiction has often been forbidden at the time of its publication.


Cult fiction is a term used to denote literature that has attracted a cult following.

A list of authors who have been described as belonging to that group would quickly become unwieldy but some literary genres tend to attract a cult following more readily than others. Most notably banned books, transgressive fiction, controversial books, erotic literature and genre fiction is prone to developing a cult following. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_fiction [Jan 2006]

Books that have attracted a cult following

  1. Anti-Œdipus (Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari)
  2. Atomised (Michel Houellebecq)
  3. The Atrocity Exhibition (J. G. Ballard)
  4. The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)
  5. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  6. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
  7. A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
  8. The Dice Man (Luke Rhinehart)
  9. Dispatches (Michael Herr)
  10. The Doors of Perception (Aldous Huxley)
  11. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  12. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe)
  13. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson)
  14. The Female Eunuch (Germaine Greer)
  15. Food of the Gods (Terence McKenna)
  16. Function of the Orgasm (Wilhelm Reich)
  17. Gaia (James Lovelock)
  18. Gödel, Escher, Bach (Douglas Hofstadter)
  19. Le Grand Meaulnes (Alain Fournier)
  20. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  21. The Illuminatus! Trilogy (Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea)
  22. Less Than Zero (Brett Easton Ellis)
  23. Journey to the End of the Night (Louis-Ferdinand Céline)
  24. The Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)
  25. Neuromancer (William Gibson)
  26. On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  27. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Ken Kesey)
  28. The Outsider (Albert Camus)
  29. The Second Sex (Simone de Beauvoir)
  30. Slaughterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut)
  31. The Storm of Steel (Ernst Jünger)
  32. The Story of the Eye (Georges Bataille)
  33. Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein)
  34. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (Carlos Castaneda)
  35. Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller)
  36. Trout Fishing in America (Richard Brautigan)
  37. The Wasp Factory (Iain Banks)
  38. White Noise (Don DeLillo)
  39. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig)


Cult fiction authors

Kathy Acker, J G Ballard , Iain Banks , John Barth , Poppy Z Brite, Charles Bukowski, Anthony Burgess , William S Burroughs , Albert Camus , Angela Carter , Nik Cohn , Colette , Dennis Cooper , Douglas Coupland , Don DeLillo , Philip K Dick , Fyodor Dostoevsky , Nick Earls , Bret Easton Ellis , James Ellroy , William Faulkner , John Fowles , William Gibson , Andre Gide , William Golding , Alasdair Gray , Radclyffe Hall , Knut Hamsun , Joseph Heller , Herman Hesse , Carl Hiaasen , S E Hinton , Nick Hornby , Aldous Huxley , John Irving , Erica Jong , James Joyce , Franz Kafka , Jack Kerouac , Ken Kesey , Stephen King , Milan Kundera , Hanif Kureishi , Harper Lee , Elmore Leonard , Doris Lessing , Mark Leyner , H P Lovecraft , Carson McCullers , Ian McEwan , Patrick McGrath , Jay McInerney , Colin MacInnes , Norman Mailer , Henry Miller , Yukio Mishima , Michael Moorcock, Walter Mosley , Vladimir Nabokov , Anais Nin , Jeff Noon , Joyce Carol Oates , Chuck Palahniuk , Mervyn Peake , Sylvia Plath , Richard Price , Thomas Pynchon , Ayn Rand , Luke Rhinehart , Anne Rice , Tom Robbins , Marquis de Sade , J D Salinger , Jean Paul Sartre , Hubert Selby , Will Self , Bruce Sterling , Robert Stone , D M Thomas , Hunter S Thompson , Jim Thompson , Gore Vidal , Kurt Vonnegut Jr , Irvine Welsh , Jeanette Winterson , Tom Wolfe --accessed on http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Guides/IfYouLike/cultfiction.asp, [Jan 2004], Wikipedia list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jahsonic#Cult_fiction [Aug 2006]

Cult Fiction Reading List

-Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang(1975). -Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guideseries (begun 1979). -Auel, Jean M. The Clan of the Cave Bear(1980). -Ballard, J.G. Crash(1973). -Brautigan, Richard. Trout Fishing in America(1967). -Brust, Stephen. To Reign in Hell -Bukowski, Charles. Post Office(1971), Ham on Rye(1982). -Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange(1962). -Burroughs, William S. Junky(1958), Naked Lunch(1959). -Camus, Albert. The Stranger(1946). -Coupland, Douglas. Shampoo Planet(1992),Girlfriend in a Coma(1998). -Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?(1968). -Dunn, Carola. Geek Love(1989). -Eddings, David. The Belgariadseries (begun 1982). -Ellison, Harlan. Deathbird Stories(1983). -Gibson, William. Neuromancer.(1984). -Goines, Donald. Daddy Cool(1974), Eldorado Red(1973). -Heinlein, Robert. Stranger in a Strange Land.(1961). -Heller, Joseph. Catch-22.1961) -Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises(1926). -Herbert, Frank. Dune(1969). -Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha(1951), Steppenwolf(1946). -Highsmith, Patricia. The Talented Mr. Ripley.(1956). -Hubbard, L. Ron Battlefield Earth(1982). -Iceberg Slim. Trick Baby(1971). -Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying(1973). -Kafka, Franz. The Trial(1924). -Kerouac, Jack. On the Road(1957). -Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest(1962). -King, Stephen. The Gunslingerseries (begun 1982). -LaHaye, Tim & Jenkins, Jerry. The Left Behindseries (begun 1995). -Lovecraft, H.P. At the Mountains of Madness(c. 1928). -Matheson, Richard. What Dreams May Come(1978), I am Legend -Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer(1934). -Moorcock, Michael. The Elricseries (begun 1972). -Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita(1955). -Nin, Anais. Delta of Venus, Little Birds.1979 -O'Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories(1960) -Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar(1961). -Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49(1966). -Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged(1957). -Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire(1976). -Robbins, Tom. Another Roadside Attraction(1971). -Rowling, J.K. The Harry Potterseries (begun 1997). -Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye(1951). -Sartre, Jean Paul. The Age of Reason(1945). -Sedaris, David. Barrel Fever and Other Stories(1994). -Selby, Hubert. Requiem for a Dream. -Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash(1992). -Thompson, Jim. The Killer Inside Me. -Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings(1954). -Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of Champions(1973). -Wells, Rebecca. Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood(1996). -Welsh, Irvine. Trainspotting(1993). --http://www.monroe.lib.in.us/fiction/cultbooks.html [Jun 2004]

Toby Litt

Described by the Guardian as 'one of the foremost young lions of British hip-lit', Toby Litt author of Corpsing, and Deadkidsongs introduces a monthly section on cult literature; books which have achieved a legendary status.

What exactly is a 'cult classic'? Why do some books capture the imagination and achieve an often slavish devotion denied to others? We asked Toby Litt, a regular contributor to www.penguin.co.uk, to help us pull apart the mystery.

Can you define a cult classic?

I started thinking about this when I was asked to write about them. I tried to write something general about what I thought a cult book was, but it ended up sounding quite offensive because cult books are books that are overrated. In some ways they're books that take over peoples lives; in the most extreme cases they invest so much in them that there's a feed back loop going on and they start to see that book in their own lives. It's not a straightforward relationship in which you read a book and you put it away. Obviously this is enviable in some ways, but if someone's reading is reduced to just one or two books, then that's obviously quite distorted. I think there is a stricter way you can look at it. These are books that have survived and gone through quite tough times in order to survive. In some ways I would like to be strict and say a cult book needed to have been out of print at some point for at least 10 years, but I don't think that's possible. People now describe books as 'cult' on publication.

Are you saying that cult books are dangerous?

Definitely. There's a scene in Seven where they check all the public libraries and bookshops in New York to see whose been reading The Catcher in the Rye. There is a sense in which that comes from real life, as in Mark Chapman's obsession with The Catcher in the Rye when he shot John Lennon. --http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/packages/uk/readers/aug01/cult.html

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