Sunday, 20 June 2010

ONES TO WATCH?

Hands up if you like lists. Thought so. The Telegraph has named Britain’s best twenty novelists under the age of forty (an arbitrary cut off – one I suppose that, for some, is when you no longer regard yourself as young). What do you think?

9 comments:

RustyNeurons said...

I could not open the link. The page says, "the link appears to be broken". Could you repost it in the comment space?

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks for that. Should work now.

Paul said...

I've never done so, but I've often wanted to review such lists from one or two generations back to see how well the cited writers had fared over time. Did they live up to their vaunted praise, or did they fade away with little more than a whimper? I'm reading an anthology from the 1940s, and most of the writers included in it are no longer well known names. Several I've had to look up to find out who/what/when/why about them.

I think a list that purports to identify writers is misdirected anyway. It's the work, not the worker, that is important in this business. Better for someone to put the effort into identifying the best short stories or novels that exemplify the state of things, the zeitgeist, or such. Celebrity waxes and wanes. Promise is not always fulfilled. Praise is often misplaced. But work endures (or not) on its own merit. Harper Lee never wrote another novel after To Kill a Mockingbird, but she never needed to. It was her novel, not her personality, that society justly enshrined. (Or not so justly. I think the novel falls apart in some ways with a little tougher scrutiny.)

Paul said...

(Plus, I didn't see your name on that list!)

TOM J VOWLER said...

I agree, Paul. Such lists no doubt help sales, and it must be gratifying to appear on them, but I imagine writers regard them somewhat frivolously. And what a burden to bear, being labelled as an 'important writer' with 'something to say'.

Anna-Marie said...

I don't understand the logic of this list at all...it's crazy! Maybe that's because I'm over 40 therefore my palm implant is blinking like mad and the carousel are after me...
I have devised an alternative list of the top authors with beards but no moustaches. Perhaps a tad sexist but not ageist or even dead-ist.
1. Henrik Ibson
2. Robert Browning
3. RD Blackmore
4. Stendhal
5. Mathew Arnold (OK so he only had ginormous sideburns but the pickings are limited)

TOM J VOWLER said...

Ha, AM.

Larry Specht said...

The New Yorker just did the same thing in their "20 under 40" issue with stories by 20 "younger" American writers who are supposedly the most influential or likely to become influential. Reading the stories induced a wonderful feeling of schadenfreude. They were all mediocre.
There still are good American short story writers, but they aren't making it onto the New Yorker lists.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Interesting stuff, Larry.