Every ten years or so, the editors of the New Yorker draw up their list of the hot new writers – presumably, the Fitzgeralds, Ferbers, Hemingways, Parkers, and Faulkners of the next generation. This year they’ve dubbed the list of up-and-comers “20 under 40. ” The 20 range from those with a certain fame – Jonathan Safran Foer,Yiyun Li, ZZ Packer, and Gay Shteyngart – to the relatively obscure. Eight of these under-40s have a story published in the current issue of the New Yorker – a feat quite a bit tougher than getting into Harvard. A story by each of the other 12 will appear over the course of the summer. In honor, then, of the next new thing, we turn this week’s Good Reads, Cool Views over to the New Yorker gang.
Magazines make lists to sell magazines, of course. But the urge to spot the next phenom in kneepants is also rooted deeply in the human psyche. Just ask Stephen Strasburg. Even the inevitable kvetching is fun. “The habit of list-making can seem arbitrary or absurd,” say the NYer editors, “leaving the list-makers endlessly open to second-guessing (although to encourage such second-guessing is perhaps the best reason to make lists).”
How Old Is a Young Writer?
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of that other great arbiter of the literary establishment (the New York Times Book Review), weighs in with a salient point: many writers do their best work in their 20s or peak in their 30s. So doesn’t 40 seem a bit old for a “young writer” list?
New York Times Book Review
The Vroman’s Bookstore blog out of Pasadena, CA, provides a great service. It gives us a little report on each of the NYer 20 – age, brief bio, recent titles, short plot and theme summaries.
So You Didn’t Make the Cut – So What?
The blogger known as Choire responds to the NYer list with a piece titled “Ten Affirmations for Fiction Writers Today.” Envy is endemic in the writer’s trade. We felt a bit slighted here at 317am and we’re not even under 40. Here are some good reasons then why being left out should fire you up.
Rhian Ellis offers an alternative – “Ten Over 80: Writers To Go Back and Read.” Now this is an interesting list, and we’ve even heard of most of these folks. However, we cannot guarantee that all the writers Ellis names are actually alive.
The Enfant Terrible at 46
Could it be 25 years since Brett Easton Ellis shocked the world with Less Than Zero, his novel of rich kids not coping well with existential dread? Yes. Ellis, who has a way with titles, is coming out with a new novel, Imperial Bedrooms, just as an anniversary edition of his debut opus returns.
Los Angeles Times
And Now for the Really Youthful
Unless you’ve been living in Vladivostok, you know that the hot TV in social media is “Glee,” a show dedicated to the unlikely proposition that members of a high school glee club can be cool. Now comes word that Lit
tle, Brown Books will be publishing a “prequel” to the series in novel form. For the few who haven’t seen “Glee,” here’s a video of the show’s six-minute season-ending production number.