Monday, April 25, 2005


Time's winged chariot, Hall and Oates

The other day I read (via Bookslut) Daniel Torday's piece from the Syracuse Post-Standard, in which the 27-year-old writer and former Esquire editor awarded the palm to his top five "up-and-coming fiction authors." I have no bone to pick with his choices (I haven't yet read Maile Meloy or Chris Jones, but I'll take his word for it). Still, most of these youngsters are a little long in the tooth. Aleksandar Hemon is 41. George Saunders will be 47 in December. And David Gates--who even Torday had to admit was "not quite young anymore"--is a spry, eternally youthful 58. Now, I yield to no one in my admiration for Gates's exquisite, hilarious, downward-spiraling narratives, and both Hemon and Saunders are real originals. I find it a little weird, however, that Torday couldn't locate any more up-and-comers from his own generation. If somebody had asked me for a similar list when I was his age, I sure as hell wouldn't have named James Gould Cozzens. On the other hand, I'm glad to know I'm still a potential up-and-comer myself. (FYI, I'm 146 years old.)

Speaking of which: my off-the-cuff mention of Hall and Oates the other day has occasioned a bit of nostalgic fallout. Did "Maneater," that irresistible blend of Motown and misogyny, really come out in 1982? Then what happened? I have a vague memory of some minor hits, always with that pounding eight-to-the-bar piano and those terrible, sub-Hallmark lyrics. ("Adult Education"? Fooey. And that goes double for the basketball metaphor in "One on One," although Daryl Hall's seductive, register-hopping vocal saves the day.) My suspicion is that their appearance on American Idol is preparing the ground for a comeback. When this Mutt-and-Jeff duo--tall, golden-haired H. and small, dark, second-banana-like O.--is riding the charts once again, remember: you read it here first.

Curious James, who would you name at this time?

If I had to drop five names of up and comers - and to me that would be one with a book or two and at least another on the way - probably late 20's to early 30's ...

Chimamanda Adichie
Anthony Doerr
Tom Franklin
Dean Bakopoulos
Brady Udall


Dan Wickett
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