Hood reflected that Colwin was but one of numerous authors, most of them, like Colwin, little read anymore, who influenced her work at the start of her career.
Essayists Hood and Newton would agree, I am sure, that both authors of the past and those of the present should be supported. Hood, after all, is an author of the present who would like to sell all the books she can. Yet she wishes Colwin and other writers of the past she admires had not been so quickly forgotten. As for Newton, he admits in his essay that he reads more old books than new ones, but, he says, he spends more on new books than old ones. Living authors, not dead ones, need the royalties.
I was disappointed last week when Jack Morris, formerly of the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, failed to win election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was his last year of eligibility to be voted in by sportswriters. Morris was one of my favorite pitchers, and I think his numbers deserve inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Yet I'm also glad the standards are high. Only the most deserving should make the cut.
So it is with writers. Not all books can or should remain in print forever, and not all authors can be remembered very long after they cease writing. The world must make way for new authors and new books. If more people were still reading Laurie Colwin, perhaps fewer would be reading Ann Hood.
I suspect that writers like Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger will still be in print and still be read 100 years from now. I can't say the same for Ann Hood or most of the other authors at Writers in Paradise. These included such notables at Tim O'Brien, Laura Lippman, Stuart O'Nan, Dennis Lehane and Andre Dubus III. It will be too bad if worthy writers like these are not long remembered. Yet, as Newton observed, readers should always pay tribute to new writers. One day this may include some of the talented students attending Writers in Paradise last week.