Who Will Live On?

LitKicks member Elpoc_05 asks a perennial question about modern lit:

‘Who will live on? Ours is a time of remembrance of everyone; but we certainly will not be able to keep it up for long. Not everyone will be known forever — who are the greats of the modern era? Who represents our time and our style? McLuhan? Ginsberg? Pound? Eliot? Stein? Kerouac? Dylan? Cohen? Sid Vicious? Rachmoninoff? Derrida? Stephen King? Legends are innumerable. Who can we think of but Shelley, Byron, Keats from their era. Chaucer is it for his time. But what about us, and our time? Who really IS the genius of today, the one to stand out?’

23 Responses

  1. some thoughtsThe new issue of
    some thoughts

    The new issue of Rolling Stone has two lit-related articles, one on Norman Mailer and one on Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve never read anything by Mailer, but I get the idea from this article that he has written some important books, specifically The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner’s Song, Why Are We At War?, and The Armies of the Night. Has anyone here read Mailer, and what do you think of him?

    One of my all-time favorite writers is Hunter S. Thompson. A lot of people think of Thompson’s drug-fueld “Gonzo” antics and don’t realize that the man really had something to say. His overall theme was the “death of the American Dream.” I think my favorite passage from a Thompson book is when he talks about the West Coast at the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies:

    “You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. … we had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
    – Hunter S. Thompson,
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

  2. If I were called upon to
    If I were called upon to vote

    I’d vote for Milan Kundera. His writing is beautiful, challenging, enjoyable to read and provides real insight into human nature. I think his words will stand the test of time and someday be studied in classrooms.

  3. VonnegutWhat is “the modern
    Vonnegut

    What is “the modern era?” Post 1950?

    If that’s the era, then Vonnegut. Here are two reasons why: Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle.

  4. Ahhhh, good answer, Malt. I
    Ahhhh, good answer, Malt. I should have thought of him, too.

  5. Mescla (Mixed)Eclectic,
    Mescla (Mixed)

    Eclectic, electric, driven and bold.
    We are the generation inclusive. There is no one example, no one genius, no one model. It is all–the melting pot. Traditionalists love the older stuff: Victorian Era miracles and fairy tale fables. Realists love the conversational coffee talk, the beatnik cafe after dark. Connection. But there isn’t just one style now. It is all mescla. All rasta, all hip-hop, all dreamers. Dreaming, wishing, feeling. Thank God for the Romantics. The ones who still keep journals and write poetry on their napkins. Thank God for the punks in their Sex Pistols jackets. Thank God for the Sean Jean/Enyce crew that spout rhyme,
    ’cause when in Rome, you do what the fellas do. And as for Latinos–
    demos gracias a Dios–que vive la raza in well-written verse. Mescla.
    United We Stand, jamming with mike in hand…

  6. my takei started out on
    my take

    i started out on ‘Naked Lunch’ by William Burroughs, i went right after to Alan Watts, ‘Taboo on Knowing Who You Are’ next i read Herman Hesse, ‘Demian’ my next quest was to read Rimbaud,and Baudelaire’s ‘Flowers of Evil’from there i was introduced to all the Surrealists, and Jorge Luis
    Borges, and then on to all the “Magic Realist” writers of south and central America, most notablly Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred years of Solitude’ along with a lot of Russian writers, mostly Dostievsky
    my fave; ‘Crime and Punishment’
    i then read Kerouac’s ‘Dharma Bums’ and somewhere along that line, all the Beats, I found a copy of ‘Golden Sardine’ by Bobby Kaufman, and that along with Philip Lamantia’s ‘Blood of the Air’ where my main hang out reads, i began to read Philosophy, mainly Nietzsche and his ‘Thus Spoke
    Zarathustra’ eventualy i read Derrida, but i also read Sartre, Heidegger, Henri Bergson, ect.
    a smathering of Science Fiction, most notably Philip K. Dick.

    So even though i read some of the other mentioned writers, namely
    Leonard Cohen, ‘Beautiful Losers’
    and Dylan’s ‘Trantula’ i would have to say i read Pound very little and Eliot almost not at all. I never read a Stephen King novel. to sum up, i would say that the mind is a vast landscape, and writers that explore human potential through the imagination are the mind manifest “terrible workers” as Rimbaud called it.I think we are in a sort of mental cul de sac, we can see to the other road across the divide, but we haven’t arrived there yet, we have some good fantastic inner road
    maps to point beyond our dreams.As far as living on, if it’s in the imagination it lives, where that will go, is anyone’s guess.the mentioned writers are my highlights.

  7. Ray Carver and Woody
    Ray Carver and Woody Allen

    Carver’s style’s the best of anyone recently. Allen’s prolific and gets the zeitgeist right. I’d nominate Robert Stone but he’s lost the beauty contest for fame and popularity.

  8. I can agree with both of
    I can agree with both of these. Raymond Carver would be on my list of greatest living writers (if he were only alive). As for Woody Allen, I don’t always love his films, but his early books like “Getting Even” and “Without Feathers” were unimpeachable.

    I can’t really make my own list … I’m just not sure what time will reveal. I’d like to nominate Brautigan as an immortal, but who knows if he is or not? Kafka, Kerouac, Joyce, Eliot … John Updike and Philip Roth … I just can’t see posterity straight enough at this point to answer the question.

  9. Kinda creepy but…I can’t
    Kinda creepy but…

    I can’t think of anybody post-1980 or so that would bowl me over.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading mostly technical stuff lately, but I don’t think so. All the names that come up are either genre writers or covered here as Beats or other romantics – all historical voices, more or less. I’m having a big problem coming up with anything or anybody within the last 20-25 years that strikes me as significant or wholly new.

  10. martha and the vandellasIf
    martha and the vandellas

    If you want to evoke ’65 you play the Shangrilas, if you want to evoke the ’80s you play Madonna.

    If you want to evoke 20th century lit you talk of T.S Eliot.

    I could add Joyce without argument, Dos Passos, Sartre, Hemmingway & maybe even Kerouac, now we’re courting controversy; everyone loves Catcher in the Rye but it’s no On the Road. Neither changed the world like the Tchiakovsky or The Lew Lewis Reformer.

    What about art? Will Warhol last a minute longer than Picasso?

  11. most popularWhat will the
    most popular

    What will the future hold? Hell, you might see the line of thinking that science fiction authors are going to be looked at as it. But most likely, and I don’t know if I agree with it, but most likely your Grisham (Hope you know who I mean may be wrong spelling.) and kings and Clancy’s, and all I have read of those is King and liked it, but I am not sure it defines this era, but it is most popular and I think that is what generally happens aside from the odd Kafka who was just too scared of his daddy to do anything while he was alive (Jokes)…

  12. About about every six months
    About about every six months or so around here I have to proclaim “I didn’t like Catcher in the Rye. So there it is. Again.

  13. I’m very happy to see someone
    I’m very happy to see someone mention Philip K. Dick. I think he was more influential than people realize. He is probably my favorite science fiction writer because his work is more than sci-fi.

    A funny thing about Burroughs. I have the Giorno set of 3 CD’s of Burroughs reading from his own books. To me, it can’t be beat – I love it. And before I heard that, I used to read excerpts from his work here on LitKicks, posted by someone called Novalark. They were always good. But when I read Naked Lunch (sometime after the Novalark posts but before the CD’s) I just had a hard time getting into it. I don’t know why, nor do I know why I’m even talking about it here – unless – maybe – could it be that Burroughs influenced a lot of what came later in the media, similar to the way Philip K. Dick did?

  14. Of Yesterday and TodayMy
    Of Yesterday and Today

    My prediction:
    Future generations will continue to be influenced by Kerouac, and Catcher in the Rye will remain a classic because a lot of people seem to be able to relate to it. People will be mystified by Jim Morrison, and will find poetry in Hendrix’s music.
    For some reason people continue to talk about Sid Vicious, although I think it is Johnny Rotten who should be remembered. I guess Sid was a bit more controversial.
    Dali. Ginsberg. But it’s just my opinion. Tell me yours.
    Oh, and the genius of today? That’s noone. We must keep grabbing for the past to fill in the gaps of today.

  15. Kerouac and DylanThis is a
    Kerouac and Dylan

    This is a pretty generic response, but I believe it to be true-so that’s what really matters. Kerouac for liberating the language and the imagination. And Dylan musically for lyricism of truth. D. is only rivaled by Lennon/McCartney in my mind for prolific songwriting.

  16. Paul BowlesIn my ever so
    Paul Bowles

    In my ever so humble opinion, I think Paul Bowles is the master of the 20th century. I think there are lots of people up there near him, but his work stops me dead in my tracks. By the end of every book or short story, my entire world is different.

    I think Dylan and Cohen will be well remembered, but I’m interested to see if it will be as poets or songwriters. I’ve read their books, and I think novelists is out of the question.

  17. as far as Phil K. Dick, there
    as far as Phil K. Dick, there have been several movies made on his books, prolly the best science fiction movie being Blade Runner, and the recent Matrix movies owe something to Phil K.

    his mind was amazing, he was a beatnik at heart, he took lots of uppers to write his paranoid style.
    Phil jumped in and messed with the
    mental circuitry. I see Burroughs
    in much the same light. My stumbling on Naked L when i was all of 17 and was not reading much at the time, that day it just hit me where it helped to scramble my already scrambled view of society. If i had stumbled on On The Road that day i don’t know how i would have seen things, any different? maybe it was the pot and cigarettes. maybe the coffee.

  18. after much thoughtI am going
    after much thought

    I am going to say Hunter S. Thompson.

    See, I could also say Kerouac, Ginsberg, Snyder, & Burroughs, but they are sort of already entrenched in the “live on” category, wouldn’t you say?

  19. i saw Jim Morrison, i saw
    i saw Jim Morrison, i saw Hendrix
    i saw Burroughs and Ginsberg,
    Bukowski too,
    my rye
    wrote a book about the psychedelic days

    maybe you will read it someday.

  20. what about david foster
    what about david foster wallace…i wouldn’t call any of his work insubstantial. broom of the system wasn’t so great, but essays and arguments…, infinite jest, brief interviews with hideous men, and oblivion all have moments of greatness. and william t. vollman is a pretty great author at times. there does seem to be a serious dearth of talented authors in the past 30 years or so, which is probably a product of our sound byte obsessed culture, to abuse a cliche. but you have to consider…it may be getting harder to write beneath the shadows of deconstructualism, post structualism, and post-modernism. it seems as if the meaning is getting harder to find as the surface of things grows, and their underpinings become harder to define…there may be no deep end anymore, just one big shallow pool.

  21. A strange and varied
    A strange and varied list…

    Here’s a list of modern writers that I believe (or at least hope) live on:

    Albert Camus, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Jean Genet, Nelson Algren, Henry Miller(if he can be considered modern), TS Eliot,Jack Kerouac etc.

    Some of these names have been pilfered from previous posts (HST, Vonnegut, Kundera); others are surefire bets (Camus, Eliot, Kerouac). And the remaining stragglers are the ones I Hope like heck will be remembered somewhere down that trodden path of time. (especially Algren, although I have serious misgivings about that one.)

    Just my two cents worth.

  22. Pat Conroy should……but
    Pat Conroy should…

    …but probably won’t.

    Anyone who has read him will tell you he spins yarns that are fascinating. Story lines with more twists than Lombard Street. He also uses the English language in a most beautiful manner – a literary style I feel is rare these days. His writing often tugs at the heart reminding readers – this reader anyway – of emotions they’ve suppressed or forgotten about. Getting lost in a Conroy book is a great escape and can be a great awakening.

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