21st Century Literature discussion

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Question of the Week > Most Over- or Under-Rated Living Author? (7/15/18)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
In your opinion who is one of the most over- or under-rated living authors? Let us know who you think falls into one or both of these categories and why.


message 2: by Lark (last edited Jul 15, 2018 06:30PM) (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 247 comments Under-rated: Joyce Carol Oates. No one can believe she could be this good and this prolific at the same time.

I don't know if anyone is over-rated--it seems that we under-rate writers, and that we've lost the ability to worship wordsmiths the way we used to, and the way they deserve. We are drowning in talent where even the novels I read from the smallest of the small presses have something amazing to say to me. Examples: Children of Our Age by A.M. Bakalar. Also by the same press Three Plastic Rooms by Petra Hůlová. If for no other reason, read it for the skill with which it was translated.


message 3: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2245 comments Mod
Lark wrote: "Under-rated: Joyce Carol Oates. No one can believe she could be this good and this prolific at the same time.

I don't know if anyone is over-rated--it seems that we under-rate writers, and that we..."


I've only read a few Oates stories, which were excellent. I've heard a few people, especially other writers, discuss how she's unfairly dismissed by critics as well.

I like your challenge of whether it's even appropriate to call a writer overrated today. Certainly my family had the attitude of "all books are good", which I think is much more likely to produce a life-long reader than an attitude of "why are you reading that trash?" Classic novels and formulaic spy novels sat shoulder to shoulder on our bookcases, and I think everyone was all the richer for it. Even the latest "it" author that will barely be remembered it 50 years probably has more to offer than most of other pursuits.


message 4: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 161 comments When I think of "over-rated", all I can think of are the super-popular Times best sellers by writers like James Patterson.

But by whom are they over-rated? Are we even considering them as authors?

I agree that (otherwise) writers are under-rates and have only a small audience who read them and think about them seriously. There are more books that sound remarkable that I'll never even find to read. I'm always learning about more (mostly from sites like this one) that I want (or even need to read.


message 5: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2833 comments Mod
I feel it is a little unfair to comment on over-rated authors because in most cases one bad experience persuades me to read no more, and this means I have probably not given them a fair chance. So it seems invidious to single anybody out.

As for under-rated authors, I suppose it depends on who is doing the rating, because a lot of the writers I like who don't find many readers do get acclaim from the more discerning critics. I can certainly think of a few who deserve more readers - Aminatta Forna, Nadeem Aslam, Adam Thorpe and Joanna Kavenna are a few that spring to mind.


message 6: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments Lark and Hugh - you both make good points. Joyce Carol Oates is really good but does not seem to get much acclaim in the literary world. And there are many excellent writers who also do not get the attention that they ought.

Whitney, I so agree with you that reading is good, regardless of what is being read. My family was like yours - we read it all. We probably leaned more to the genre side, since sci fi and mysteries were favorites.

I so think that groups like this give us a better chance of exposure to underrated authors and not only in what we read collectively but in what we nominate and promote.


message 7: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments Speaking of Joyce Carol Oates, she has been nominated for The New Academy award that will be given out this year because the Nobel Prize for Literature will not. There are 47 nominations, made by Swedish librarians. Public voting, now open, will narrow to 3, with the Swedish librarians picking a fourth. Then a panel will decide the winner. The first link below is to the NY Times article describing how the prize came about. The second link is to The New Academy website. While, unsurprisingly, the Swedish librarians picked 12 Swedish authors, 15 other countries are represented:
USA - 13
Sweden-12
UK - 5
Canada - 3
France - 2
Italy - 2
Poland - 1
Israel - 1
Nigeria - 1
Guadelupe - 1
Iceland - 1
India - 1
Finland - 1
Japan - 1
Kenya - 1
Switzerland - 1
GO VOTE!
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/bo...
https://www.dennyaakademien.com/


message 8: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 247 comments Whitney wrote: "Even the latest "it" author that will barely be remembered it 50 years probably has more to offer than most of other pursuits...."

I'm turning 60 this year and it's long enough to see this fact about literary history demonstrate itself a few times over.

At first I didn't realize the question-of-the-week asked for living authors only and I wrote John Cheever, who as far as I can tell no one reads any longer.

And I just read Norman Mailer's mainly-autobiographical compilation Advertisements for Myself and there is a part where he muses about which of his books will be read in 100 years. It made me so sad. It seemed to inadvertently capture the evanescent nature of literary fame, since hardly anyone reads anything by Norman Mailer now--he didn't make it to 100 years. I love two of his books but they are both barely known. (Of a Fire on the Moon and The Fight)


message 9: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Lark, John Cheever's "The Swimmer" (PDF link) is one of my favorite short stories! Admittedly, I probably would not have read much, if any, Cheever if my wife had not shared her copy of The Stories of John Cheever with me.

Surely, this is the fate of almost all culture--very little of it actually survives, much less remains relevant, especially as the earth's population and cultural/artistic output increases. On the flip side, so much more of it is now accessible at one's fingertips (given electricity and internet access).

Mailer may make a resurgence at some point and he certainly still shows up on a lot of "best of" lists.

I'm going to go with Lynne Tillman as one of the most under-rated authors living. She has a unique voice and playfully blends art criticism, philosophy, and fiction in a way I've seen few other authors even try.


message 10: by Lily (last edited Jul 18, 2018 08:13PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments For me, this question brought to mind a group of authors, more than any specific authors. When I look at the list of authors who have won or been nominated for the Neustadt award, I am sorry that so many do not seem to be better known and more widely read. Hugh mentioned Aminatta Forna. ( The Memory of Love is one of my very favorite books, up there with Tolstoy and James.) I would add Nuruddin Farah and Assia Djebar (1936-2015). But others, like Patricia Grace and Mia Couto, still beckon me to read them.

https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/...


message 11: by Doug (new)

Doug I think we can pretty much all agree that most genre authors who sell a gazillion copies of schlock are overrated (Patterson, Nora Roberts, S. King, etc.). One who I don't think is given enough credit is James Lee Burke, who I met decades ago in NOLA when he only had a couple of Robicheaux books in print... a heck of a nice guy and excellent writer then, and probably the same now.

So lets move on to Booker winners and nominees: on the basis of their ONE book I have read, my list of overrated would have to include Jon McGregor (no surprise), Mike McCormack, Marlon James, Howard Jacobson, Paul Beatty, David Means, A. L. Kennedy and Kiran Desai.

Underrated is an odd term for anyone who HAS been nominated, but I don't think these authors have gotten the readership or acclaim they so obviously deserve: the Holy Trinity of Ali Smith/Deborah Levy/Rachel Cusk (yes, I know she hasn't been nominated YET, but she should have been and hopefully WILL be in a week!), Damon Galcut, Niall Williams, Anne Enright, Anuradha Roy (who hopefully will get her second nomination on the 24th also), Manil Suri, and Tom McCarthy.

I'm sure there are others I could think of, given enough time, but these will do for now.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Arundhati Roy, Mark Haddon, Rohinton Mistry, and Junot Díaz spring to mind as over-rated. These are from small sample sizes, but it's their most acclaimed books I've read. I'm not saying they are bad authors, but I'm surprised at the notoriety they get for what they've written.

I've not read enough by Margaret Atwood or Paul Auster to call them over-rated, but what I read was disappointing.


message 13: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2245 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "I think we can pretty much all agree that most genre authors who sell a gazillion copies of schlock are overrated (Patterson, Nora Roberts, S. King, etc.). One who I don't think is given enough cre..."

I disagree. When I think "overrated" I think of things that have some level of acclaim by people generally or at least largely recognized as experts in the field. I wouldn't include something that's just wildly popular in the category.

Using a "some level of critical acclaim" marker, anyone's choice is bound to be contentious, pretty much by definition (e.g. Bryan's choices, above).


message 14: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Doug wrote: "I think we can pretty much all agree that most genre authors who sell a gazillion copies of schlock are overrated (Patterson, Nora Roberts, S. King, etc.). One who I don't think is given enough cre..."

I was intending to stay out of this topic, since the several authors I consider most overrated are some of our members’ most highly revered, but I strongly disagree with including Stephen King in a list of authors selling “schlock.” One man’s schlock is another’s literary delight. Carry on...


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments The very idea of 'over-rated' is a bit ambiguous. For me, first I have to feel that somehow, a kind of consensus has emerged that a particular author is important in the sense that he or she has something of value to say. That strikes me as much different than simply being entertained. That border is murky, at best--but while there is nothing wrong with entertainment, it really isn't what I read for. Or maybe I should say that I find it more entertaining to read something of value, rather than something that is really more of a diversion. (This is a very snobby distinction that I'm making, I know. I spend plenty of time on diversion--far too much, to my mind--and I think each reader needs to satisfy his or her own needs as far as that goes. In other words, I don't think there is any right or wrong about it, except as the person feels about it themselves.)

So by saying I think an author is over-rated, I am saying that what I felt to be an overwhelming critical consensus led me to believe that the particular kind of value I look for in literature was in his or her body of work, and after reading a sample, I either don't agree, or do not feel that the result was worth the amount of praise.

For instance, a 2015 article in The Guardian, on the best books of the 21st century, mentions that The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao topped most critics best-of lists. Granted, the number of 21st century books I've read is limited, but the idea that Diaz over-topped Marilynn Robinson, or that Sebald's Austerlitz or Bolaño's 2666 didn't even make the dozen best listed seems incredible to me. (https://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04...)

Most of the authors that I do enjoy who are still living do receive quite a bit of notice (it isn't as if the three I mentioned above are unknowns). I envy some of the readers here who are familiar with many writers I've never heard of, though I am always broadening my horizons, and which is one of the reasons I try to follow the threads there, though mostly only lurking.


message 16: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
It is one's personal opinion we're looking for here, which also does mean one person's genius may be another's schmuck. The hype and accolades I'd heard about both Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon have not really lived up to my personal experience with reading their work (thus far). So, for me, they would be "over-rated." That doesn't mean people who admire or adore them are idiots in my book, it just means I didn't react to or see what they did when experiencing those authors. There are certain authors whose first few works I read, I absolutely adored (e.g., Murakami and David Mitchell), but their recent works have not lived up to their past despite the acclaim they still seem to elicit.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Marc wrote: "It is one's personal opinion we're looking for here, which also does mean one person's genius may be another's schmuck. The hype and accolades I'd heard about both Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon ha..."

Michael Chabon is another I would agree with.


message 18: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
What Chabon book(s) have you read, Bryan? Thus far, I've only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I did enjoy it, but my expectations were so high that I didn't really see what all the fuss was about (and there are tons of GR friends whose recs and advice I value that loved this book). I'll eventually give some of his other works a go, but probably not anytime too soon.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Marc wrote: "What Chabon book(s) have you read, Bryan? Thus far, I've only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I did enjoy it, but my expectations were so high that I didn't really see w..."

Kavalier & Clay is the only fiction of his that I've read, though I tried to read The Yiddish Policemen's Union but it never grabbed my interest. I also liked K&C when I read it, but as time has gone by, I get less and less favorable in my memories of it. The thing is that most of these new novelists are good craftsmen--excellent, actually, so it isn't a question of their ability. In the end it comes down to whether I felt they had anything insightful to say, or if they just said some common things in a very inventive, clever way.

I did really enjoy Chabon's Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, but some of that is surely due to the fact that Michael Chabon and I are of the same generation, and this book of essays is about a lot of common interests.


message 20: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments Marc, I love that you are letting each of us pick our own criteria for judging over and under rated. And while it would make our answers more understandable if each of us provided our personal criteria, as Bryan did, it perhaps more fun to just allow us to disagree with each other with little understanding of how we are making the determination!

Personally, I did not consider most of the authors who fill today's topselling lists, such as James Patterson. I cannot say they are overrated - even if, from a literary perspective, most would not make a top 10 list - for two reasons. First, is that people are reading them and reading is to be encouraged. Second, sometimes I think most of us need a good beach read, one that does not require much work and one that is full of action and suspense. If an author can provide that, he or she is probably doing something useful.

And, I do not include Steven King in the beach read category. I think King is one of a kind. No one else scares the pants off me like King and then he turns around and writes something like Hearts in Atlantis, which tore my heart out.


message 21: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
I hope we all have our own criteria for judging books and authors. Disagree away!!! :D

Going off-topic here, but has anyone noticed that James Patterson has a series of slimmer books called BookShots? I've never read Patterson before, and I first noticed these in the checkout line at the grocery store, but I thought it a rather interesting attempt to pull in readers who wouldn't normally go for a larger book. An attempt to compete with shorter-attention spans. Most are not even by him. And now back to our regular programming...


message 22: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments Wow. I had never heard of BookShots (I rarely go to a grocery store). I wonder if other commercially popular authors, like star athletes, will be given contracts to "present" some form of short book? Fascinating.


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Patterson is essentially Thomas Alva Edison for books. The products are produced by anonymous team members, and bear his name. What makes me most sad about him is how much shelf space his books occupy in my favorite used book stores. :)


message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert | 461 comments Marc wrote: "I hope we all have our own criteria for judging books and authors. Disagree away!!! :D

Going off-topic here, but has anyone noticed that James Patterson has a series of slimmer books called BookSh..."


still going off topic - James Patterson is also a children's author, whose middle school series are not bad but are a bit formulaic - only a small handful of my students like his books


message 25: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2245 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Patterson is essentially Thomas Alva Edison for books. The products are produced by anonymous team members, and bear his name. What makes me most sad about him is how much shelf space his books occ..."

He is the "Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light" of the literary world!


message 26: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments Whitney you have captured Patterson perfectly!


message 27: by Lily (last edited Jul 20, 2018 04:41PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Bryan wrote: "Arundhati Roy, Mark Haddon, Rohinton Mistry, and Junot Díaz spring to mind as over-rated. These are from small sample sizes, but it's their most acclaimed books I've read. I'm not saying they are b..."

I will disagree with you on Rohinton Mistry, Bryan. I have only read A Fine Balance , and while I quarreled with its ending, I thought it captured a swath of Indian characters and experiences. (My review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5...)

Now, how does it stand up against Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children , I'm not certain I ready to say. It has been too long since I read that fine book.

As for the others you name, while I did not personally warm to Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, I don't have an opinion I could defend. Diaz keeps sitting on my list of authors "I really should read someday."


message 28: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments I thought this was a tough discussion since reading is so personal. Until I walked into the local bookstore where I’m on vacation and saw a swath of Dave Eggers books taking up space and thought, yep, he’s who fits the overrated authors for me.

I truly have no idea if he has won much literary acclaim, it’s solely based on my continued disappointment of his books despite many people and buzzy things telling me how great his books are.

He might be the first author I swore off reading no matter what anyone else tells me. (It’s true, I’m easily swayed by people telling me what I “have” to read.)


message 29: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments And Whitney, your comment made me laugh out loud despite never having read any James Patterson. My husband is an artist so there have been some painfully heated discussions with my Kincaid-loving family. Bless their hearts.


message 30: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited Jul 19, 2018 06:06AM) (new)

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Lily wrote: "... Rohinton Mistry, Bryan. I have only read A Fine Balance , and while I quarreled with its ending, I thought it captured a swath of Indian characters and experiences...."

Hi Lily--I can't disagree with you there. A Fine Balance is the book of his that I read as well (I don't think he has but a couple others, and they haven't achieved the same sort of success that AFB did, as far as I know.) I found it on Colm Tóibín"s list of the 200 best novels in English since 1950--he had the books broken down by decades, and since I'd read so few from the 1990s, I picked that one and some others to try.


message 31: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
I really like the way you summed it up, Bryan:
"The thing is that most of these new novelists are good craftsmen--excellent, actually, so it isn't a question of their ability. In the end it comes down to whether I felt they had anything insightful to say, or if they just said some common things in a very inventive, clever way. "

Sometimes it's a matter of timing, too--if a book doesn't come to you at the "right" time in your life, it may never click with you.

See, Whitney, I knew you'd be able to come up with an over-rated author if you just dug deep (or went to the bookstore)! :D


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Marc wrote: "Sometimes it's a matter of timing, too--if a book doesn't come to you at the "right" time in your life, it may never click with you...."

As objective as I think I am sometimes, this probably happens to me a lot more than I think it does.


message 33: by Whitney (last edited Jul 19, 2018 08:08AM) (new)

Whitney | 2245 comments Mod
Marc wrote: "See, Whitney, I knew you'd be able to come up with an over-rated author if you just dug deep (or went to the bookstore)! :D *..."

You mean Patterson? I was really just commenting on the revelation that his books are produced by an assembly line, I haven't actually read any. And he doesn't really fit my definition of overrated as "having a high level of undeserved critical acclaim." (Like, say, A Little Life.)


message 34: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Whitney wrote: "You mean Patterson? I was really just commenting on t..."

No, I meant Eggers!


message 35: by Clarke (last edited Jul 19, 2018 08:59AM) (new)

Clarke Owens | 123 comments I wonder what others thought of Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See." I thought it was very well written, but I felt almost manipulated by the subject into obligatory pathos. How many times do we have to rely on the Nazis for a sense of moral opposition? I'd rather read work by WWII vets or people who lived during WWII on this subject (Celine, Kozinsky, Vonnegut, Boll, et al).


message 36: by Marc (last edited Jul 19, 2018 10:05AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
I'm going to go out and a limb and say we should be glad no larger monster has yet replaced the Nazis in our collective memory/history. That being said, one does get a kind of WWII burnout (I suspect, part of my underwhelming reaction to Chabon's book was that I had just been reading a fair amount of WWII-related lit and I was either somewhat numbed or his work did not stand out in comparison).

I enjoyed Doerr's book, but also grappled a bit with feeling manipulated (the children, the disability, the fairytale-like feel which I felt the book was too long to sustain, etc.). See message 26 on this link for the group discussion: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18143593-index-to-2014-book-discussions


message 37: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2245 comments Mod
Marc wrote: "Whitney wrote: "You mean Patterson? I was really just commenting on t..."

No, I meant Eggers!"


That was Bretnie. I've never read Eggers, mainly because I'm pretty sure I'd agree with Bretnie's assessment.. Although I have read some excellent articles in McSweeney's.


message 38: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Well, that explains the confusion! Totally my misreading there.


message 39: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Ha, yes, that was me. :) Just don't confuse me with someone who didn't like Chabon - I love a lot of his work! (but definitely get that it may not be for everyone)


message 40: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Bretnie wrote: "Ha, yes, that was me. :) Just don't confuse me with someone who didn't like Chabon - I love a lot of his work! (but definitely get that it may not be for everyone)"

I'll keep it straight from here on out! ;-)


message 41: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Bretnie wrote: "Ha, yes, that was me. :) Just don't confuse me with someone who didn't like Chabon - I love a lot of his work! (but definitely get that it may not be for everyone)"

Can I ask what your favorite Chabon is thus far? I do plan to give him another try.


message 42: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Definitely Kavalier and Clay and Yiddish Policeman’s Union. His recent Moonglow was good but was so different than the other two. I think that’s one thing I enjoy about his writing actually - his books are so different from each other.


message 43: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2874 comments Mod
Bretnie wrote: "Definitely Kavalier and Clay and Yiddish Policeman’s Union. His recent Moonglow was good but was so different than the other two. I think that’s one thing I enjoy about his writing actually - his b..."

Thanks! I was leaning toward Yiddish Policeman's Union or Telegraph Ave. Maybe I'll go for the former. I like authors who change things up amongst their books.


message 44: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Oh yeah, I really liked Telegraph Avenue! It felt more like a traditional plot than his others, but still solid!


message 45: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 247 comments I love this thread. Thanks for all these interesting thoughts you're giving me.

I'm in some kind of crisis of confidence lately where I think any book that was written to be original and new, vs. written to be genre and not-new, is worthy of 5 stars.

I'm thinking it's just my purblind recalcitrant reading of it that makes me think a writer is 'over-rated.'

My crisis started when I read Lauren Groff's "By the Book" interview in the NYT where she said she hated The Man Who Loved Children the first three times she read it and loved it the fourth time.

I hated Fates and Furies but now I'm thinking I should re-read because of Lauren Groff's interview and I'll probably love it.

Here is a link to this interview:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/bo...


message 46: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Lark wrote: "I love this thread. Thanks for all these interesting thoughts you're giving me.

I'm in some kind of crisis of confidence lately where I think any book that was written to be original and new, vs. ..."


Lark, that cracks me up! People give me a hard time for being a compulsive book-finisher despite not liking a book (hey, there are reasons!), but even I can't imagine re-reading a book that I hated just to figure out if I could love it. :)

I had mixed feelings on Fates and Furies.


message 47: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2439 comments I liked Fates and Furies and must say it would take a lot to make me reread a book I hated. But then I'm reluctant to reread books I really like when I read them because I'm afraid they won't be as good the second time around. And Lark, Lauren Groff's interview was on of the best I've read in the "By the Book" feature.


message 48: by Lily (last edited Jul 20, 2018 04:16PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Lark wrote: "My crisis started when I read Lauren Groff's "By the Book" interview i. ..."

From that interview (thx for pointing to it, Lark):

"Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

"This is a deeply incomplete list, but among fiction writers, I love Joy Williams, Louise Erdrich, Lorrie Moore, Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi, Han Kang, Marilynne Robinson, Rachel Cusk, Laila Lalami, Kelly Link, Tania James and Deborah Eisenberg. The poets I love include Claudia Rankine, Brenda Shaughnessy, Monica Youn, Tracy K. Smith, Ada Limón and Anne Carson, who may be my favorite living writer of all. Annie Baker is my playwriting queen. In nonfiction, Elizabeth Kolbert, Rebecca Solnit, Jia Tolentino, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Jill Lepore, Sarah Manguso and Eula Biss are essential."

(Add of links was pretty much arbitrary. Most were to facilitate my own look-ups, so figured I might as well share.)


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Marc wrote: "I was leaning toward Yiddish Policeman's Union or Telegraph Ave. Maybe I'll go for the former. I like authors who change things up amongst their books. ..."

Your choice has my vote! I rated Moonglow 5 stars, but as I thought back on it just now, I began to think that I overrated it by a star. Then I looked back at the lines I quoted in my GR review and I remembered just how superb he was for me at the paragraph and sentence level. I've loved everything he's written, until Telegraph Ave; to my shock, I couldn't read past the first few pages. Moonglow came as a relief after that.


message 50: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Whitney wrote: "And he doesn't really fit my definition of overrated as "having a high level of undeserved critical acclaim." (Like, say, A Little Life.) ..."

I can agree with that one, Whitney. I will say, I find it easier to have an opinion about particular books than about the oeuvre of an author, perhaps because I like to keep "sampling."


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