Baby Ruth: Naturalist novel. Bestseller when originally published but now largely forgotten. Traces the development of Ruth O’Reilly from her beginnings as a beautiful infant with alcoholic Irish-Jewish immigrant parents to her downfall as a saintly prostitute.
“Bit-O-Honey”: Poem by James Whitcomb Riley. All but unreadable for its dialect.
Boston Baked Beans: Rejected title for collection of poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks.
Bottle Caps: 1936 Steinbeck novel that somehow blends nostalgia for the trappings of poverty with socialist politics.
5th Avenue: Little-known sequel to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
“Goobers”: Name of Faulkner’s Snopes family story sequence.
“Good and Plenty”: This phrase, which occurs in Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, is also the title of a story by Flannery O’Connor.
Hershey’s Special Dark: Orig. Herschel’s Special Dark. 1978 novel by Saul Bellow.
Jolly Ranchers: Bret Harte Western (1874). Full title: The Jolly Ranchers of Buscom Bar.
“m & ms”: Poem by e. e. cummings.
Mike & Ike: Title of lost Hemingway novel. Probably justifiably lost, as it was a novel about bullfighting, war, and romance from the point of view of a twelve-year-old.
Mounds: Nickname among literary critics of Henry Miller’s infamous long work The Book of Uninteresting Redundant Sex.
Payday: Controversial semi-journalistic muckraking work.
“Raisinets”: Orig. “Raisinettes.” Jingoistic WWI ballad, recirculated during WWII.
Snickers: Novel unfinished at time of death by Carson McCullers. Her preferred title, according to letters, was Life Through the Bottom of a Glass, but the book is better known as Snickers, the name of the main character. It is unclear whether Snickers is male or female, as all the sentences in the book start with “Snickers.”
“Sno-Caps”: One manuscript omitted the “w” in the title. Transcendentalist poem.
“Sour Patch Kids”: Story published in Harper’s in 1911. Originally regarded as a mere example of “local color” writing, it was later examined for its impact on American realism.
Sugar Babies: 19th c. children’s book. Largely considered out of date for its racist themes.
Sugar Daddy: Title of minor Tennessee Williams play.
“Swedish Fish”: In an incident unduplicated in American letters, Robert Frost published this eighteen-line poem in 1923, and it went largely unnoticed until the same poem was published by Robert Lowell in 1955. Lowell insisted he was unfamiliar with the Frost poem and had merely come to the same ideas separately. Evidence of drafts supported this. The incident was forgotten until Elizabeth Bishop published “Swedish Fish” in 1965. Bishop admitted she had not read Frost’s poem—or Lowell’s, though he had sent it to her in a letter a decade earlier. Versions by Denise Levertov and Stanley Kunitz, with stylistic variations, followed, each writer apparently unaware of the others. The phenomenon has been studied by literary critics, who note that Frost’s version may have been preceded by an unpublished draft of a similar poem by Marianne Moore. Incidents of “Swedish Fish” have continued unabated. John Ashbery published a version last year.
“Whoppers”: Short story by Sherwood Anderson about a compulsive liar.
Zagnut: Rumored as-yet-unfinished work by Pynchon.