I ran across "The Woman Who Wouldn't Stay Dead" by someone I'd never heard of, Gerald Kersh, and started reading. I ended up reading it straight through twice, annotating and dog-earring it in several places. I vowed to find out more about Kersh when I got up the next day. There was plenty to find out.
Not only was Kersh outstandingly prolific, he was, in my opinion, the best kind of writer: someone who brings a whole lot to the table before setting down the first word. Born in Teddington, England in 1911, Kersh worked numerous jobs while trying to make it as a writer: movie theatre manager, debt collector, cook, teacher, and even a wrestler. He became an American citizen in 1959, and died in 1968.
If you've heard of Kersh, it's probably as author of the 1938 novel Night and the City, which was made into movies in 1950 and 1992. Though he only lived to be 57, Kersh was a prolific writer, publishing 20 novels, 20 collections of short stories, and countless other articles in various publications. He also wrote under a handful of pseudonyms. Problem is, most if not all of his works are out of print, so they're a little hard to find.
I don't really know how to describe how wonderful Kersh's prose is, but it makes me imagine how Nikolai Gogol would have written after several glasses of champagne (which is a bit odd, since Kersh was a Jew, and Gogol was accused, fairly or not, of anti-Semitism at times). Harlan Ellison said of Kersh in the introduction to the novel Nightshade and Damnations, "No mortal can write this well," and after the limited reading I've done of Kersh's work, I have found no reason to disagree with that statement.
Fortunately, you can still find several of Kersh's works for sale on sites like Alibris, and by individual sellers on Amazon. Looks like I'll have plenty to keep my mind busy while I wait for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami to come out in August.