ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT
(Pictured: O. Henry.)
The Tournament is open to specialists of any variety. One-book authors have a chance– if the book is a great one.
We won’t exclude anyone for being just a short story writer. We value the short story. We love it. We see the short story as literature’s future. Its way to break out of its snobby neighborhood. Its exclusive ghetto.
It’d be like excluding rock n’ roll singers with strings of hit singles but no important album from the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. It’d be an outrage. (See Chubby Checker and Tommy James.)
Neither should poets be excluded for being just poets. Or playwrights excluded for being merely playwrights.
Novelists are valued by critics highest of all writers of the past 150 years– but the novel is overrated. Few novels can truly be said to be gems of art. Truly accomplished works of art. Most are time fillers.
(The Great Gatsby is a gem of a novel, but it’s not the greatest American novel.)
Some few novels are time-filling compelling reads– but more.
Katherine Anne Porter was a talented short story writer who wrote a novel because she felt she had to.
The novel, Ship of Fools, isn’t a bad novel. Neither is it enough of an achievement to place her into the Tournament. If Katherine Anne Porter makes the Tournament it will be because of her short stories. And her novellas.
Raymond Carver never wrote a novel, but this isn’t enough of a factor to keep him out of the Tournament.
Other factors will likely keep him out of the Tournament.
TRIVIA QUESTION: What do writers O. Henry and Katherine Anne Porter have in common aside from fact both were American and both specialized in the short story form?
(First correct answer wins a free batch of New Pop Lit postcards.)