A little while back the Charlotte Observer pondered the fading legacy of William Saroyan. In the meantime, the Fresno Bee has been digging in and investigating it, building a neat widgety timeline, posting an unpublished novella, Follow, and more, wrapping up its coverage with long feature on whether Saroyan’s reputation will improve in the future. (Fresno State University has a course on Saroyan, but it’s part of the Armenian Studies department, not English.) One suggestion as to why Saroyan isn’t on the top of readers’ and critics’ book piles:
But Saroyan’s legacy suffers because he has no great novels to his credit, said Fresno journalist and writer Mark Arax, who knew Saroyan.
“He was spontaneous,” Arax said. “He wrote in these incredible bursts of energy and creativity. That kind of talent served him best in short stories. I think he found the writing of the great American novel, and all the character development you have to do, a little tedious.”