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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

What was Fitzgerald's best?

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

yes, that's what I meant.

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

Its also possible that authors peak in their 50's rather than their late 20's early 30's like pop musicians.

 

Sorry for not being clear. I don't believe any sort of artists first work is their best.

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

Its also possible that authors peak in their 50's rather than their late 20's early 30's like pop musicians.

 

Sorry for not being clear. I don't believe any sort of artists first work is their best.

Still thinking of Fitzgerald.

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

Its also possible that authors peak in their 50's rather than their late 20's early 30's like pop musicians.

 

Sorry for not being clear. I don't believe any sort of artists first work is their best.

Still thinking of Fitzgerald.

drug induced.

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

Its also possible that authors peak in their 50's rather than their late 20's early 30's like pop musicians.

 

Sorry for not being clear. I don't believe any sort of artists first work is their best.

Still thinking of Fitzgerald.

drug induced.

Doesn't alcohol count?

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Authors tend to not get better.

 

balderdash!

I honestly can't tell if you are being serious - and I don't mean that in a "he must be joking if he is saying that" sort of way. Am I incorrect?

 

no, you're just wrong. with a few exceptions--the younger romantic poets mostly--most notable examples run the other way.

 

dickens' best work is all at the tail end of his life: bleak house, little dorrit, great expectations, our mutual friend.

 

george eliot: middlemarch and daniel deronda are her last novels.

 

austen didn't live very long and her most popular novels are here first two, but no one would believe you if you said that emma and persuasion are not more assured novels.

 

dostoevsky: last novel? the brothers karamazov.

 

shakespeare: the tempest is one of the last plays. othello, lear, macbeth also late.

 

yeats, eliot, auden: their mature poetry is their best.

 

closer to our time: naipaul, delillo, roth (american pastoral, the human stain were written in his 60s).

 

the last twilight book is also the best.

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I'd add that Midnight Oil (Capricornia) & The Church (any of their last 4 albums) put out some really strong albums past 35. Of course they aren't exactly global chart toppers, and the Oils have been disbanded for a decade, but the quality is there for their cult audiences.

 

Anyway, yes, the Stones still sound pretty good. Though I miss the days when a new single automatically implied a B side instead of one-and-done and we'll-use-this-to-sell-another-greatest-hits collection. Ah well, we're all lucky to still be going, whatever ages we are.

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Maybe there'd be more of a discussion if you said that "authors tend to peak" (which is what I assume you meant).

 

ETA: It's hard to think of anybody good whose first novel was his best. But I get the feeling you're talking about third or fifth novels. (I personally still think you're wrong. Writers may tend to lose it when they get VERY old, but anybody truly good is going to be as good or better in late middle age than when young.)

gaddis, but you're generally right.

 

there's a lot of authors who get steadily better. henry james, flannery oconnor, etc.

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Authors tend to not get better.

 

balderdash!

I honestly can't tell if you are being serious - and I don't mean that in a "he must be joking if he is saying that" sort of way. Am I incorrect?

 

no, you're just wrong. with a few exceptions--the younger romantic poets mostly--most notable examples run the other way.

 

dickens' best work is all at the tail end of his life: bleak house, little dorrit, great expectations, our mutual friend.

 

george eliot: middlemarch and daniel deronda are her last novels.

 

austen didn't live very long and her most popular novels are here first two, but no one would believe you if you said that emma and persuasion are not more assured novels.

 

dostoevsky: last novel? the brothers karamazov.

 

shakespeare: the tempest is one of the last plays. othello, lear, macbeth also late.

 

yeats, eliot, auden: their mature poetry is their best.

 

closer to our time: naipaul, delillo, roth (american pastoral, the human stain were written in his 60s).

 

the last twilight book is also the best.

Even after the clarification? most authors don't peak?

 

ETA: Your non-present day novelist sample is sort of weird - many of them died in their 50's. Maybe that's where the peak is for novelists? Maybe Roth is an outlier? Underworld DeLillo was 61?

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Even after the clarification? most authors don't peak?

 

ETA: Your non-present day novelist sample is sort of weird - many of them died in their 50's. Maybe that's where the peak is for novelists? Maybe Roth is an outlier? Underworld DeLillo was 61?

 

well, presumably everyone in every calling peaks/runs out of new ideas at some point or starts experimenting with new forms which don't compare well with the more familiar genres of their earlier work (naipaul). and delillo has written many novels since underworld, most generally very well-received. he's 65 now.

 

and i can't do anything about longevity of people in the 19th century.

 

those who are very prolific are hard to slot into narratives of this kind. dickens' very best novels, in my opinion, are his first and last (complete) novels: the pickwick papers and our mutual friend. similarly, among musicians, some of bob dylan's very late period stuff (love and theft, time out of mind, world gone wrong) stack up just fine with the best of his 60s period, while it's in the late 70s and 80s that the dross is to be found. similarly as albums cohen's latest, as well as the future and i'm your man are better than most of his early work (though the highs may be higher on those).

 

bob mould is also aging very well, by the way. and wilco are doing well too despite being over the 40 hump. ditto neko case who is just getting better with each album. and then there's tom waits.

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