32 SLOTS ARE LEFT
ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITER TOURNAMENT
Choices, choices. Does Truman Capote have a large enough body of work with one great nonfiction book and a handful of decent stories? If so, who does he displace? Joseph “Catch 22” Heller? Herman Wouk? Caine Mutiny’s strawberries are part of the culture. Prolific icon Philip Roth? Richard Yates? Yates wrote a few great stories and at least one pretty good novel. As did J.F. Powers. Richard Wright? Can Wright be left out? Or Thomas Wolfe of a few giant novels? Or observant journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe? “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities” are terms known by those who haven’t read the books.
We’ll see that 32 places isn’t a lot.
Playwrights? August Wilson? Langston Hughes? Neil Simon??? Will Neil Simon’s plays last? Will David Mamet’s plays last? In any sales job one meets individuals who quote from Mamet: the Glengarry leads; coffee is for closers, and such. Should any past but now largely forgotten playwrights like Clifford Odets get in?
32 slots isn’t a lot.
Why isn’t Ralph Waldo Emerson listed yet? Henry David Thoreau? Theodore Dreiser? Robert Lowell? Erskine Caldwell? Remember Tobacco Road. David Foster Wallace of our own time. Bret Ellis. Henry Miller. Joan Didion. Thomas Pynchon. James Dickey. Updike will likely have to take a space, like it or not. Hart Crane Wallace Stevens John Ashbery (ugh!) William Carlos Williams Maya Angelou Alice Walker James Cain Philip K. Dick IsaacAsimovNormanMailerEdithWhartonBernieMalamudSaulBellowSinclairLewisJamesJonesPearlBuckWilliam(EdgarRice?)Burroughs help!
32 spots isn’t a lot.