Monday, June 14, 2010


I tell people that I'm 18 with 24 years of experience. Why?

Because it always freaks me out how some writers can be filled with such bonafide talent at such a young age.

Don't get me wrong, I wrote lots of things in my younger days, but in re-reading them now, I just cringe. Quite simply, I didn't possess the tools or the wisdom to create anything substantial.

The June 14 issue of The New Yorker -- one of the premiere showcases for American fiction -- features their annual list of "20 Under 40" — that is, 20 accomplished writers under the age of 40.

According to the editors, the purpose of the feature is "to offer a focused look at the talent sprouting and blooming around us," in particular the talent of these "young fiction writers who we believe are, or will be, key to their generation,... the ones our grandchildren and their grandchildren will read."

So check out this link for Gary Shteyngart's story "Lenny Hearts Eunice" as well as many Q&S by the young scribes and abstracts of their stories.

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  1. i still can't get with Jonathan Safron Foer. I tried. I find him a pretentious bore....and I like Jonathan Franzen, so I can usually get with Pretentious bores.

  2. I've only got a few more years to make this list... do bad I'm so damn lazy ;-)

  3. Agist, elitest, youth-oriented bastardos - why doesn't anyone do a 20 over 40 list? That's where the real action is.
    I find I'm at a stage in life where I'm too old for contests like this and too young for the senior's discount.

  4. Cathy, we don't do 20 Over 40 because you couldn't narrow it to 20. The non-fiction and fiction industries are utterly dominated by writers over 40 years old, people who have honed their talent (or at least their sales methods). The "Under 40" gimmick seems novel; if you read contemporary fiction, you probably predominantly read from the over 40 set. I know I do. Pit this crowd against Thomas Pynchon, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Chabon, etc., and it would get pretty gruesome.

    I'm halfway through the issue and not nearly as impressed with the stories as I want to be. There's voice and the ability to access a wide frame of reference but not much more. Only Gary Shteynhart's story has done much for me so far, but it's just a louder, wilder explosion of the same thing Ferris was doing. I keep reminding myself that no generation gets twenty Hemingways, Faulkners, Fitzgeralds and Chandlers (and even if they did, and were amazing before their 40's, an establishment magazine might not select all of them, or select their best work). Maybe the next story will shake me.

  5. I'll read more of the article later. I'm like you Anthony. I read back over work I wrote in my twenties and cringe but every now and again you read soemthing and say "did I actaully write that?" I gave writing up for a long time, not because of a loss of love for it it but kids came along and other things. I'm 41 now and have been back at it seriously for 10 months now, and I hope that I am improving.

    Thanks for the link to The New Yorker as well.

  6. and they say youth is wasted on the young...

  7. Also, I can't spell Shteyngart to save my life.

  8. Doesn't one need to gather their material (living) so they have some good shit to write about later? That said, I'm about packed full:)


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