HuffPo has pulled together a list of The 12 Greatest Literary One-Hit Wonders. And it’s a strange list indeed. When you think of “one-hit wonders,” you think of memorable songs recorded by very unmemorable artists – artists who got their 15 minutes of fame and then fell right off the radar. Meanwhile, the HuffPo list includes some of the most enduring names in American literature – F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, and Herman Melville. They gave us their big novels – The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and Moby Dick – then wrote some other lasting pieces of fiction, both short and long. They hardly faded into oblivion. And, years later, we’re certainly not asking, “what ever happened to old what’s his name?”
Yes, the premise of this exercise was really absurd. As if we should judge a writer poorly because he or she created “only” one masterpiece. There’s a big difference between a hit and a work that endures. In Fitzgerald’s case, for example, “The Great Gatsby” wasn’t even a hit. His debut novel, “This Side of Paradise,” was a much more popular and commercially succesful book in his lifetime.