I should keep a Wikipedia-like list of when some of my old weird favorite books were published. Ernest Vincent Wright's Gadsby came out in 1939, as did Harry Stephen Keeler's Y. Cheung, Business Detective, which I recently read again. (It's even weirder than I remembered.)
Here's a piece I wrote about Gadsby back in 2002. (No real reason for this post, save that I hadn't seen such a handsome cover image before. It's from Wikipedia.) A taste:
John Gadsby, "Youth's champion," is the hero of Ernest Vincent Wright's 1939 Gadsby, fearlessly subtitled A Novel of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E." Like the paragraph above, the book eschews our tongue's bedrock letter. The absence creates a tone alternately lofty ("It is an odd kink of humanity which cannot find any valuation in spots of natural glory") and rambunctious ("Books!! Pooh! Maps! BAH!!"), and demands comical circumlocutions for the simplest things—a turkey dubbed the "Thanksgiving National Bird," a wedding cake rechristened "an astonishing loaf of culinary art." The languorous tale shows how Gadsby harnesses the energy and ideas of young people to turn the backwater of Branton Hills into a bustling city. Children stump for civic projects, such as the establishment of a park and a library, and Gadsby soon becomes mayor.
Tonight! Crosley/Park tête-à-tête at McNally Jackson! Click here for more info.