Shelby Foote's Standards

Sun Mar 8, 2009

This is from the NYT interview with Cormac McCarthy:

Saul Bellow, who sat on the committee that in 1981 awarded him a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, exclaims over his “absolutely overpowering use of language, his life-giving and death-dealing sentences.” Says the historian and novelist Shelby Foote: “McCarthy is the one writer younger than myself who has excited me. I told the MacArthur people that he would be honoring them as much as they were honoring him.”

Shelby Foote was born in 1916. I had wanted to mock this when I started the post, but then I started running through a list of writers born after I was who I thought might excite me and it turned out to be much closer to zero than I had expected. Probably a lesson there.