Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Tournament Seeding

At this stage, the order in which I put these writers is arbitrary. Nearly all need to be in the tournament someplace. The hard choices have yet to be made.

#5 Seeds:

A.) T.S. Eliot.
B.) Gore Vidal.
C.) Susan Sontag.
D.) Allen Ginsberg.

#6 Seeds:

A.) Harriet Beecher Stowe.
B.) Nathaniel Hawthorne.
C.) William Faulkner.
D.) Robert Frost.

#7 Seeds:

A.) Stephen Crane.
B.) Carl Sandburg.
C.) J.D. Salinger.
D.) Arthur Miller.

#8 Seeds:

A.) Joyce Carol Oates.
B.) James Baldwin.
C.) Charles Bukowski.
D.) Kurt Vonnegut.

This fills out the top half of the bracket. Many spots are left. So far, I've listed very few living writers-- in part because few have a large footprint in society, and because literature itself no longer has a large footprint in society. There are no major figures, with the possible exception of Stephen King, who's a terrible writer. is too limited to have the artistic and intellectual ambition of a Rand or Sontag, has no personality, and breaks no new artistic ground.

Some writers like Chuck Paluhniak, mentioned in a comment on a previous post, have some footprint in the culture. Enough to include them in the brackets, but not ahead of these other figures.

It's not a great time for the art. Eliot gave readings in the 1950's in stadiums. Great poetic talent then, whether from vistors like Dylan Thomas or home grown poets like John Berryman, or fledgling geniuses like Sylvia Plath, was everywhere. Novelists like Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal through the 60's were celebrities. Some, like Susan Sontag, had personality and style. Creative writers were considered major thinkers.

Which creative writer is considered a major thinker now? If I'm missing a couple, please let me know!


  1. A few added points:
    -Vidal is a popular novelist (Burr et.al.) but his best work has been as an essayist. Also wrote a couple first-rate plays, and, like Oates, has even dabbled in mystery stories.
    -Oates' best work was in the 1960's, when her short stories were striking and her first novels received wide critical and popular acclaim. But she's like the Bruce Springsteen of lit-- just keeps repeating herself and repeating herself and repeating herself. . . .
    -James Baldwin was an excellent essayist and an even better short story writer-- "Sonny's Blues," "Going to Meet the Man," and others.

  2. Nonfiction is more alive than fiction today. Is there anyone who stands out to you? Sebastian Unger for his writing about Afghanistan? Hmm. The soldier-writers seem too new. I can make a case for Seymour Hersch for impact of writing that exposed the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib, but does that cross a not-to-be-crossed writer line?

    If my bracketology is correct #5 seeds play #11 seeds, which means (I hope) Truman Capote as a #11 seed up against Vidal in the first round?