My Starting Nine (of the Literary World)
Josh Wilker, voice of the mathematically eliminated, and author of one of my favorite recent books, “Cardboard Gods,” was interviewed a few weeks back by Shelf Awareness, who asked him, among other things, to name his five favorite authors. He did them one better: he gave them a starting nine.
On his own site he asked, a la the MLB Network, “What's your starting nine?”
That's my kinda question.
First, I went with American authors only, partly because it's our national pastime, and partly because I couldn't figure out positions for Tolstoy and Kundera. Then I tried to pick my most-read authors. This is what I came up with:
- James Baldwin, CF: Great range—from novels to essays to memoir to plays. (.312/.401/.405)
- Tobias Wolff, 2B: Never hits the ball far but always hits it cleanly; good at moving the man over. (.293/.397/.372)
- Ernest Hemingway, 1B: The legend. Opposition pitchers quake when he steps up. (.302/.384/.557)
- Norman Mailer, C: Big mouth behind the plate; big bat at the plate—he’s always swinging for the fences. (.264, .374, .531)
- John Irving, 3B: Another big hitter, not as naturally talented as Mailer, but he's put together some incredible seasons. (.274/.359/.514)
- Philip Roth, RF: A line-drive hitter, he sprays it all over the park. (.282/.367/.482)
- E.L. Doctorow, LF: Just what the world needs, Edgar, another left fielder. (.275/.353/.455)
- J.D. Salinger, SS: A lot of heart and soul; plus poetry on the glove. (.266/.353/.422)
- Kurt Vonnegut, P: Crazy lefty. (2.88 ERA)
My starting nine.
This means a lot of talent on the bench, of course: Cather, DeLillo, Morrison, Updike. Serously: Updike? I'm not starting Updike? Don't I want to win this thing?
Originally, by the way, I had Gore Vidal pitching, so I could have a battery of Vidal-Mailer, but then I remembered Doctorow wasn't on the team so someone had to go.
It's a tough, fun exercise. Now what's your starting nine?