I know I'm an old lady now, but really. How many writers who published this year can you rattle off the tip of your collective tongues? We'll throw in 2011, just to be fair. I can name George R.R. Martin in fiction and Garry Wills in non-fiction, and I know most of my readers can name several others - including, perhaps, Barbara Stoner - but how many of them can most of us recognize immediately as household names?
Here's a list from 1962: Isaac Asimov, J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Anthony Burgess, William S. Burroughs, Agatha Christie, Phillip K. Dick, Allen Drury, William Faulkner, Ian Fleming, Aldous Huxley, James Jones, Ken Kesey, Doris Lessing, H.P. Lovecraft, Vladimir Nabokov, Katherine Anne Porter, Mary Renault, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Mary Stewart, Rex Stout, Kurt Vonnegut, Herman Wouk.
Ok, so I couldn't rattle them all off at a moment's notice, but going down this list from 50 years ago is like visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Walk down any hall and it seems you are greeting old friends from all those old art history classes.
In the wake of the new season of Mad Men, I also can't help but wonder if 2012 will see writers that some old lady in 2062 will look back on and think, wow! That was the beginning of the 20-teens. When everything changed.