Seeking Obscure Subculture Fiction
January 6, 2014 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend fiction about obscure subcultures. Basically, I'm looking for the fiction version of this question. More contemporary books (written recently and about contemporary subjects) are preferred but not required.
posted by Xalf to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Almost Transparent Blue, by Ryu Murakami
(druggy rock-and-rock Japanese youth in the 60s/70s)

Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead
(fancy African-American youth who spend their summers in the Hamptons)
posted by mrmanvir at 8:18 AM on January 6, 2014

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and terrible, and wonderful, and sticks with you.

It's inspired several similar tales. The Beach by Alex Garland is one. And Apocalypse Now, of course.
posted by mochapickle at 8:20 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: I liked Drop City.
posted by something something at 8:35 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: See You Down the Road, a YA book about a teen Irish Traveller and her family in the southeast US.

Go and Come Back, another YA book about a native culture in the Peruvian jungle and the white ladies who visit them.
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on January 6, 2014

Even more than Heart of Darkness, take a look at Conrad's The Secret Agent, which (in super-brief) concerns a small cell of anarchists (and their circle) in London at the end of the 19th century.
posted by jquinby at 8:47 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Rapture of Canaan is a haunting book about a girl growing up in a small Christian Fundamentalist cult. Not sure if the late 90s are contemporary enough for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Geek Love by Katharine Dunn is about carnival "freaks" and is a fantastic read.
posted by Mchelly at 9:07 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Drop City was great. It's about commune/back-to-the-land culture in the 70s.
posted by OmieWise at 9:46 AM on January 6, 2014

Not sure if you're looking for fiction about actual, existing subcultures, or fiction about fictitious subcultures. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set in the 22nd century and follows several groups of fanatically obsessed Disneyworld fans in their quest for creative control over the park.
posted by duffell at 9:46 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Depending on what you count as "obscure," lots of queer literature would fit the bill here. Here's a couple with an especially strong sense of place and time, by authors who Were There:

Nevada (Livejournal-era NYC queer/trans punks).
The Swimming-pool Library (rich gay men in 1980s London).
Giovanni's Room (gay expats in Paris in the 1950s).
Basically everything by Jean Genet (gay hustlers and small-time criminals in pre-WWII France).
Stone Butch Blues (1960s butch/femme culture in the Rust Belt).
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:50 AM on January 6, 2014

Maybe a bit roundabout but maybe check out the TVTropes page on subcultures, pick one that sounds interesting, and see what books are listed under that?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes, maybe? It's about the very beginnings of the mod subculture in Britain in the late '50s/early '60s. (If you've seen the mediocre movie that was based on it, don't let it put you off; the book's better.)
posted by scody at 10:25 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore occurred to me -- such an excellent book and I think it really gives you the feeling of getting into 2 cultures (geeky Google culture and dusty bookstore/cult-y culture), and the clash/interaction between them.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2014

Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein is like a road trip through sexual subcultures circa 2007, and it's a quick read.
posted by Tesseractive at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2014

I came in to recommend Stone Butch Blues but Mr. Penumbra is also fantastic. Stone Butch Blues made me cry like a baby; Penumbra made me laugh a lot.
posted by NoraReed at 2:06 AM on January 7, 2014

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