In the midst of all the national attention paid to the death of J.D. Salinger, there slipped away with less notice than it should have received the death of another novelist—the author of 60 books and perhaps the most under-appreciated literary talent of the century: Louis Auchincloss, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92.
It really is not much of an exaggeration to say he was the Edith Wharton of our time—but we didn’t seem much to want to read novels set in that Whartonesque world, and Auchincloss received praise mostly of the “Ah, yes, Auchincloss, of course” sort. He deserved better, and a good place to start in understanding why is the fine essay Christopher Caldwell wrote about him a few years ago in the Weekly Standard.
Just as an aside, isn’t Chris Caldwell close to being the most versatile magazine writer in America? His literary essays don’t receive the acclaim that his political pieces do, but they’re very, very good.