Re: RARA-AVIS: Jonathan Yardley's wow of an article

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 20 Jul 2002

Yardley says:

<<Surely it is worth noting that it has been a half century since an American writer published a novel that indisputably deserves to be called great: The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow. It is one of only 11 American novels published in the life span of this newspaper that, in my judgment, warrant the same distinction: Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dreiser's Sister Carrie, Wharton's The House of Mirth, Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!, Ellison's Invisible Man and Nabokov's Lolita. One can always hope for a surprise, a novel with as much ambition and sinew and breadth and depth as these, and as one who makes his living passing public judgment on new books I pray that such a book comes along.>>

No really great ones in half a century? Yardley needs to get out more. He even forgets about Nobokov's _Ada_, which is even better than Lolita. Not to mention the work of Gaddis, Malamud, Pynchon, Cheever, the late Henry Roth
(_Mercy of a Rude Stream_ is an awesome work), Robert Stone, and two or three generations of superb female writers.

And if the "genres" are to be included, there are quite a few people who can keep Chandler company besides Willeford, Leonard and the few ones he names. I would include, for example, Gores, Block, Westlake, the late Ross Thomas, Constantine and Himes.

Then the man excludes Hemingway...

A provocative article that almost succeeded in provoking me.



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