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Questions tagged [identification-request]

Questions asking for identification of a literary work (story, novel, poem, play, etc) or author, based on descriptive details provided within the question. Please be thorough and provide ALL of the details that you can remember when using this tag. (For questions seeking the original source of a known quote, use the [quote-source] tag instead.)

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49 votes
2 answers
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Did Gaiman and Pratchett troll an interviewer who thought they were religious fanatics?

TVTropes says, about the book Good Omens: In real life: Gaiman and Pratchett did a radio interview when the book came out, and slowly realized that the interviewer wasn't aware that the book was ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.9k
27 votes
1 answer
8k views

English short story where a wife makes an investigation officer eat the murder weapon

I remember reading this English short story during my school days; it was part of our English curriculum 18-19 years ago. Plot: It starts with a wife killing her husband with turkey or chicken or ...
Ankit Sharma's user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
7k views

Scene from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur fails to explain how Earth technology works

I remember a scene from one of the Hitchhiker books: Arthur Dent (I guess) talks to an alien who says that the Earth was this very backwards planet. Arthur says, well, this is not true, we had plenty ...
Bini's user avatar
  • 221
22 votes
1 answer
611 views

Looking for a poem about the (fictionalized) writing of The Canterbury Tales Prologue

A friend of mine used to quote a poem that told the fictionalized story of Chaucer writing the first lines of the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill with his ... ". When he ...
D Mac's user avatar
  • 179
20 votes
1 answer
179 views

Short story about an atomic energy agency van, with a funny surprise ending

My question is about a short-story with a surprise ending. The story is about an atomic energy agency van that accidentally gets off the road down a steep slope and hits a small tree. People on ...
user avatar
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

Sci-Fi Short Story - Life Saving Weight Loss

I recall a short story I read in High School. We read it in English class so it was likely published in an anthology intended for use in schools. (This was in Scotland in the 1970's if that helps.) ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 19.1k
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

Story about child slavery and mutilated body parts?

Can someone help me identify this story about child slavery? I read this last year in my English class and its a book about slavery. Synopsis: The Protagonist is a young male who collects unmarked ...
Metro Boomin's user avatar
  • 1,112
18 votes
4 answers
5k views

In what Chinese fairy tale does a painter disappear into his own painting?

The online description of Rüdiger Safranski's book Wieviel Wahrheit braucht der Mensch? begins with the following sentence: In einem berühmten chinesischen Märchen verschwindet der Maler in seinem ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 45.8k
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Children’s poem about a boy stuck between the tracks on the underground

When I was young I used to love Michael Rosen. Don’t put mustard in the custard and lots of silly ones like that. I also remember that there was a darker poem in one of the poem compilation books set ...
sam_smith's user avatar
  • 397
18 votes
1 answer
413 views

Medical school that brainwashes students, run by drug company that does unethical experiments

I read this English-language thriller novel in 2017 or 2018 (publish date unknown) at a local library in the Western United States. It's been bugging me for a while. I remember a lot of details but I'...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
18 votes
2 answers
1k views

Short story about a man condemned to death because he cannot remember the details about a country

I once read a short story about a man (a journalist?) visiting a prison inmate. He was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, and it was a case of mistaken identity or insufficient alibi. The ...
Raziman T V's user avatar
18 votes
0 answers
402 views

What is this mid-20th century British adventure novel?

I’d like help finding a novel I loved as a child. The points I can remember: It was set and written in mid-20th century England, perhaps the 1950s. Perhaps aimed at schoolchildren of the time - a ...
U W's user avatar
  • 345
18 votes
2 answers
478 views

Overpopulated world, where volunteers are being taken to be converted to food

I've read a lot of stories over the years, and Google is not being kind to my search terms (it probably flagged something with NSA or Homeland Security, too). The book I'm thinking of is set in an ...
ps2goat's user avatar
  • 297
17 votes
1 answer
3k views

Short Story About a Woman Saving up to Buy a Gift?

I think I read a short about a woman who is trying to save up for a gift, and realized that she doesn't have enough money to buy her husband anything significant. While she is looking at her saved ...
itisyeetimetoday's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Science fiction short story with the ability to jump from world to world

I read this not long ago, maybe a year. It was either a short story or a novella, certainly not longer. Read in English, in the US. The story was definitely older though, no clue exactly when but ...
user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
227 views

African dystopia with children on the run

This is a book I read in 4th grade, so about 2012-2013. This was in English and in the US. This wasn't really a sci-fi novel that I remember, but definitely dystopian. It was set in the future of an ...
user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
591 views

Short story in Russian about time travel and changing the history of WW2

I remember when I was a child (probably about 40 years ago), I read some story in a Russian book (I think its original language was Russian). The story is as follows: a man read some documentary book ...
Alexan's user avatar
  • 501
16 votes
1 answer
324 views

"The Dearest Charms in France" - French story about soldiers, a lottery, and a famous prostitute

Several years ago, I read a memorable short story included as an example (of what, I don't recall) in a book about writing. The story was set in a historical era of France. I believe it was ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 2,376
16 votes
1 answer
603 views

An imaginary young British poet who was invented as a literary hoax in the 1920s?

I think I read a brief piece about this a long time ago -- as in, over twenty years ago. (Possibly in some sort of literary reference book.) As near as I can recall, the following sequence of events ...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 419
16 votes
1 answer
917 views

Identify a Children's Book about a character who eats all his groceries on the way home

I'm trying to identify a book I used to read as a child (90s-00s) that I just barely remember. It was for young children, and I believe each page had a sentence or two along with an illustration. It ...
anwen's user avatar
  • 269
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

Limerick involves a pregnant Scottish woman and anagrams

Somewhere in the 1993-2000 time period, I had a hardback book of various linguistic oddities, I think with a red slip cover with white lettering. One of the items included was a limerick along the ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.8k
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

1960s kids book with "invisible" dust which people think improves everything but doesn't actually exist

In the 1960s, my grammar school (grades 1-8) encouraged us to buy cheap kids books; they had lists and we checked off what we wanted and paid for them. They were cheap; these were not new releases, ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 255
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

Story about a man who bets his head but not his neck with the devil

I remember a story about a man who bets "his head" with the devil and loses. I do not remember what the wager actually was. The devil is ready to chop the man's head off with an axe, but the ...
polm23's user avatar
  • 253
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Children's book with "a ring, a stone, a finger bone"

I'm trying to find a fantasy book from my childhood library, about 45 years ago. I distinctly remember a quote from it, a ring, a stone, a finger bone describing three talismanic objects. There was ...
2shortguy's user avatar
  • 151
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Short story about a detective and criminal who disguise themselves and interact while in pursuit

I read a short story around 1996 in the US. I think it was part of a 5th grade reader book (kind of a compilation of short stories at the appropriate reading level). I remember thinking the story was ...
Sinenomen's user avatar
  • 263
15 votes
1 answer
890 views

Short story about Gentlemen being told a tale by a young woman

Trying to find the title of an old short story I read roughly 5 years ago. If memory serves, The protagonist was a man in his late 20s to early 30s and the story takes place in Europe shortly before ...
user93468's user avatar
  • 301
15 votes
1 answer
992 views

Identify a story about murders of homeless people

I remember 2 years ago reading a book in class about a retired soldier who lures homeless people into his house and murders them. I believe the plot went like this: Lets say the heroes name is X. ...
Metro Boomin's user avatar
  • 1,112
15 votes
1 answer
338 views

The name of a poem about a poet being happy that someone has forgotten the title of their poem

I read this poem in a collection and now I can't find it. It starts with the poet talking about how they were approached by someone who had loved one of their poems. But the reader could not remember ...
KittenWithAWhip's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
797 views

Identify a book, love triangle, death of a woman, no Personal Computers

I have read a book in the 90's, while I was a teen, but it is very likely it was published much earlier. I have been trying to find it on and off since. I do not remember character names. Sorry. ...
jo1storm's user avatar
  • 544
15 votes
1 answer
291 views

Juvenile literature about a group of children living in a castle, looking for a treasure

There were at least two books, although I only recall the plot of the first one. They were paperbacks, probably about octavo dimensions, fairly short as I remember them, under a hundred pages. I read ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.8k
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

Children's book - eat the dictionary

The premise is pretty simple and straightforward: [caterpillar, moth, worm, bug of some sort] eats its way through a dictionary, one letter at a time. It is only able to speak using words starting ...
dmg's user avatar
  • 243
14 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is the name of a short story where a computer insists 2+2 is 5?

Many years ago in a US middle school, in an honors literature class we read a short story in English that has stuck with me since and I haven't been able to find it. Roughly: someone creates a ...
linter-purgatory's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

Looking for an old O. Henry story about a wealthy young man trying to woo a "genteel poor" young lady in New York City

I'm trying to pin down a certain short story by O. Henry. I remember the plot quite well, but not the title, nor which book collection of O. Henry's stories I first encountered it within. And let's ...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 419
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

A detective story about money printing

I probably read this 3-5 years ago. It is a story about a man that wants to reveal a money printing factory, which he does because his brother died (I guess) while trying to reveal that money printing....
Elrond's user avatar
  • 143
14 votes
1 answer
181 views

Help Identifying Children's Book with Easter Bunnies

I know this is a hard, but when I was a kid I had a book about a town that asked some Easter Bunnies to paint the town for Easter or the Easter Bunnies just painted the town or one Easter Bunny ...
Rincewind's user avatar
  • 496
14 votes
1 answer
913 views

Identify a book about a boy who has hypnotic powers

I remember this book fairly well. I'll try to provide what I remember about all points. Cover The cover was predominantly blue, with spirals across the whole thing. I think it had a person on it. ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.2k
14 votes
2 answers
5k views

Which German book was Poe referring to?

The opening line of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Man of the Crowd" is as follows. It was well said of a certain German book that "er lasst sich nicht lesen"- it does not permit itself to be ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.9k
14 votes
1 answer
285 views

Creepy children's illustrated book, like Jumanji, about boy waiting for parents to come home with new baby, sees faces in walls

I have a very distinct yet vague memory of a book I remember reading at school. It had very little text, and was illustrated, in a format similar to Jumanji or Where The Wild Things Are. The ...
TCassa's user avatar
  • 243
14 votes
1 answer
253 views

Fairy tale story in two parts: "as I first heard it" and "when I wanted to know more"

I read this book some years ago, probably around 2010, though it was definitely older than that. It had a fairly short and simple title, of the kind one might expect to find on a fairy tale: "The Lost ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.9k
14 votes
0 answers
724 views

A story in which a young girl saves a poor boy from a factory owner and meets that boy decades later

Yesterday, I was reading a 5th grader's comprehension book. It had multiple excerpts from good (if not well-known) novels. One of them particularly stood out to me. It was about a woman who lived in ...
Soha Farhin Pine's user avatar
14 votes
0 answers
188 views

Help me identify an old children's picture book featuring anthropomimetic arthropods

The book in question was written prior to 1990. The pages probably had no words — I was able to read at the time, so either it was not narrated or the words were not memorable. Each page, or pair of ...
can-ned_food's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

What literary work is being referred to in this limerick in which "The earth, like an orange, is blue"?

In the blog post Famous Poems Rewritten as Limericks on LanguageHat.com (2 April 2018), a certain Trond Engen posted the following limerick: The earth, like an orange, is blue. Your love and your ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 45.8k
13 votes
2 answers
922 views

YA Adventure/Survival Novel, Written Late 1940's Through Late 1970's

I'm trying to find a YA novel that I read sometime between 1977 and 1980 from our public library (after I started reading "big books" in second grade, but before we moved from that town). Two notes: ...
Deacon's user avatar
  • 397
13 votes
2 answers
258 views

Can anyone remind me who wrote this essay about qualifying remarks? (Mark Twain, maybe?)

It might be Mark Twain or O.Henry. It discusses the shortcomings of that era's novels and short stories. Specifically, it parodies authors' remarks qualifying dialogue. The author of the essay claims ...
Ricky's user avatar
  • 181
13 votes
1 answer
830 views

Ogden Nash poem on hiccups

I have a vivid memory of reading a poem by Ogden Nash about hiccups that included the word "epiglottis" to help explain why they happen. I think it also had, as a poem, his quote about how &...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.8k
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

A girl, told that it's wonderful to live in Wales, goes off to live in a whale

This story came to me earlier today and now it's nagging at the edge of my brain. It was a short, somewhat silly, story, part of a collection that I read somewhere in the early 90s. I read it in the ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.8k
13 votes
2 answers
647 views

Mystery book series whose titles are alliterations and involve gemstones

I remember, when I was in middle school, reading a series of mystery books. The titles were of the format 'X and Y', where X was a type of gemstone, and X and Y began with the same letter. As far as ...
Xynariz's user avatar
  • 241
13 votes
1 answer
956 views

Identify a story about the kid who waves at the train

I learned of a story in my high school time (sometime during the years 2000-2002) as part of the English textbook. The story is about two men having a conversation in a train, one is a disabled man ...
Mat J's user avatar
  • 233
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Trying to remember a book about a relationship between a teenage girl and an older man

I read this story in the 1990s sometime. I remember it being novel-length, but short novel length, maybe 200 pages or so. The cover art I remember was the most 80s thing you've ever seen - a girl with ...
Nathaniel Irvin's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
200 views

Postmodernist fantasy with nested stories structure

Searching for a work of metafiction I read about five years ago, probably published originally in the early 2000s. It's a bizarre fable about a young man who develops an obsession with a girl, a ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
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