ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITER TOURNAMENT
A.) O. Henry.
B.) Ralph Waldo Emerson.
C.) Tom Wolfe.
D.) Saul Bellow.
O. Henry is hugely underrated as a writer. There was much more going on in his tales than meets the eye. (I have a short ebook planned on him.)
Emerson was at some point obligatory, given the huge influence he had on early American thought. He was a poet and an essayist.
Tom Wolfe was the best of the "New Journalists" of the 1960's. Wrote some classic essays and a couple good nonfiction books like The Right Stuff. In the 1980's he turned himself into a novelist. Not as good as he thinks he is, but like Emerson, too important a figure to leave out.
Carrying on that theme, we close this seed with Saul Bellow, who's been hugely overrated. Bellow wrote one great novella. His novels are failures. His characters, like Henderson the Rain King, are always loudly expressing emotion, but the narratives seldom create emotion in the reader. In the same way, Bellow is always trying to express ideas, to be intellectual, the attempts almost laughably failing in a big way. He ended up being the crankiest American author ever, far surpassing even the likes of Clemens and Cozzens. Still, for one brief moment he put everything together.