Who Are the Most Charismatic American Writers?


charisma writers

AS SIDE FEATURE to the big tournament (still officially on hiatus) we’re presenting a scientific assessment of the–


–with aid from the boys at Scientific Customized Analysis Marketing Inc., who’ve been helping us with the Tournament itself.


Which factors have we used to determine as nebulous a quality as charisma?

A.) WHETHER OR NOT they’re cultural icons. Iconic figures in their time and ours.

-How large was/is their cultural footprint?-

The goal after all for writers (and promoters of writing and writers) should be to increase the literary art’s footprint in this society. This world.

B.) EXCITEMENT OF THEIR WRITING. How charismatic is their poetry or prose? Did it, in and of itself, create excitement for literature? For themselves?

C.) EXCITEMENT OF THE ARTIST. Did the writer create a visible persona? Become a larger-than-life personality? Did a myth grow up about the individual? About the person’s art and life?

The folks at S.C.A.M. Inc. broke this down further for us, into precise data points not unlike baseball sabermetrics. Or whatever the fellows at FiveThirtyEight.com come up with to justify their not-always-accurate-in-fact-usually-wrong predictions about politics.

-Do we claim our assessment as scientific?-

We do so claim this! If it’s scientific, it must be correct.

OF the more than 200 literary names analyzed, we’ll present, soon, the Top Fifteen Most Charismatic.

NOTE: Not included were those writers whose biggest claim to fame was in another art form or medium. Which means, no Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson, Patti Smith or Eminem. Sorry! Literature FIRST.

NEXT: #15

Data Mining at the Combine?



WE’VE ENGAGED a marketing form with a strong background in metrics and data mining to examine for us if their tools can be used at our just-about-to-begin Official NPL Writers Combine. Here’s how we spotted them:

This should add an interesting new wrinkle to things!

We hope Count Tolstoy, who’s directing the Combine, will be pleased!

(Combine due to start– tomorrow!)

The Writer as Public Figure?



THE UNSTATED PREMISE of those who are touting the new movie about J.D. Salinger, “Rebel in the Rye,” is that his absence from the lit scene for decades created mystery about him. They’re hoping to capitalize on that mystery.

There’s something to be said for this viewpoint. There are multiple examples of performers and artists who achieved a level of lasting fame because they removed themselves from the scene at an early age. Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean jump immediately to mind. In the lit game, Sylvia Plath. Mystery has been an essential component of charisma for a long time. (See fan dancer Sally Rand. The brief, unsatisfied glimpse.) Or look at the most famous person in history. The mystery of Jesus’s death and resurrection is the most compelling part of the Gospel narratives.
Yet J.D. Salinger was able to vanish because his literary celebrity had already been built. He wrote at a time when writers mattered.

How much more difficult the task is now, when even the biggest name writers walk around as virtual unknowns, not part of the conversation of general culture– a culture 1,000 times noisier than it once was.

Can one create mystery and charisma about a writer by keeping that person offstage– yet somehow still get the word out?

NEXT: “Star Power.” A Counter-Argument.