It’s nothing new, but the art world, particularly the literary world (including comics), is an ageist game. Especially with the explosion of hypermedia, and the reliance on interactivity to maintain one’s literary profile. There’s this idea (often an accurate one) that we should be excited by a writer’s first or second (sometimes third) book, but, after that, it’s like, “Oh, it’s just another one by John Barth or Don DeLillo or [even] George Saunders.” I think it’s worth taking a moment to note older writers who are doing NEW things, publishing either their best work, or works as good as any they’ve published.
A couple of comics artists come to mind. Gary Panter’s most recent work is as medium-changing as anything going on today, as exciting as the work of kids like Dash Shaw. Art Spiegelman also refuses to ever do the same thing twice, re-learning how to draw for each new book. As far as prose, Stephen Dixon has yet to miss a beat. His work is so consistent and unrelenting that I can’t say he’s doing the best work of his career, but work as good as any in his career.
What else you got – writers who are 55-plus but either entering or still in their literary primes? (Let’s come up with a long list.)
14 thoughts on “Literary Primes – AARP Division”
William Gass. Steve Tomasula. Ursula K. Le Guin. Alan Moore. Joan Didion. Lydia Davis. Samuel Delany. Eileen Myles. John Ashbery.
Albert Goldbarth. Rikki Ducornet.
great list, john. both of them.
to be totally biased (because he’s my friend & was my thesis advisor), steve tomasula is really it. his new dvd novel TOC, if it had come out 10 years ago when he’d written & conceived of it, would have been beyond cutting edge. even now, it’s pretty magnificent. hard for me to imagine how he (or anyone) conceived such as thing.
also: carole maso, & though i don’t know how old they are (to qualify for this list or not): kass fleisher, joe amato, stacey levine.
I was going to include Maso but she’s 53 or so.
Will Alexander was born in ’48 and New Directions (interestingly) calls his new book _The Sri Lankan Loxodrome_ a “breakthrough poetry collection.”
Not sure about Olen Butler, but at least he’s always trying new things.
Damn, Michael Martone’s only around 54. But David Markson’s in there.
all of them, john, all of them. great recommendations!
That’s a nice little tercet you have there, John!