One of the pantheon. Born in China to English parents, the young aesthete Denton Welch collected art objects as a child and intended to be a painter before, at twenty, a car struck him while he was cycling in Surrey and rendered him unfit for anything but the writing life. The injury and its complications left him in pain until his death at thirty-three. (He did manage to paint this self-portrait, which hangs in the National Gallery London.) His masterpiece is In Youth Is Pleasure, and a close second is A Voice Through a Cloud. Spoiler alert: Nothing happens. Artistic, sensitive Orvil Pym copes with athletic, bullying older brothers and spends his fifteenth summer, um, having feelings? Noticing things? Against all logic he makes it absolutely compelling. Even if you weren't part of the Shanghai scene in the 1920s, you'll feel like you're remembering and reliving it as you sink into the splendor of his fictionalized memoir Maiden Voyage.
As proof of Welch's alchemist talents to transform empty days into gold, here's William S Burroughs, who often cited Welch as his "greatest literary influence," explaining, "Whenever a student tells me he has nothing to write about I refer him to Denton Welch. He makes the reader aware of the magic that is right under his eyes..." That magic is evident everywhere in Welch's collected stories; Bob Smith has said "At Thirteen" was his all-time favorite short fiction by a gay author. Long ago when Peter Cameron inscribed my copy of Andorra he wrote, "Read Denton Welch." One of the ten thousand enduring charms of Peter's marvelous novel Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You [Kindle] is his teen protagonist's love of Welch's work.
Plan now. Next year is the Denton Welch centennial.