If you cared about the Super Bowl, or at least watched it, who you picked likely came down the Tale of Two QBs: the ascendant, freshly anointed MVP Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning, the aging Fisher King questing for one last grail to heal a multitude of grievous wounds suffered through two decades of battle. Variant, mostly empty, narratives abound: brash vs. class, selfish vs. selfless, favorite vs. underdog, all carrying plenty of subtext for anyone willing to take it on. But last night, Age was served, and that probably suits many observers outside of the Carolinas just fine. Weep not for Cam; there's plenty of time for him to get back to the Big Game (just ask Marino), and he'll carry the sympathy vote if he's 35 when it happens.
These themes, of course, are not limited to athletics"”they're just often more apparent and accelerated there. The Beatles were done by the time they were 30, Microsoft never got past Windows, and itinerant CEOs struggle to replicate the success of past right-time/right-place fortune. Nor are writers exempt from the frailty and doubt that chews at the edges of youthful inspiration, not to mention the dedication to work required to produce at high standards of commercial or artistic success"”and only a few can pull it off. And so in honor of Peyton's victory over death and inexorable time, here is a list of writers over retirement age with new books coming later this year, all possessing enough prior success that the only conceivable reason to keep doing it is that they are compelled.
Zero K by Don DeLillo (79): The postmodern phenomenon (White Noise, Libra, Underworld) returns with his most highly anticipated novel in quite some time.
The Ancient Minstrelby Jim Harrison (pictured above, 78): If choosing between a fight with a bear or Jim Harrison, pick the bear.
Treachery at Lancaster Gate: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel by Anne Perry (77): The the bestselling author of more than 50 books of historical detective fiction featuring Thomas Pitt or William Monk, and more than 90 books altogether.
Private Paris (Jack Morgan Series)by James Patterson (68): I like to think that James Patterson graduated from the same writing workshop that produced Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Lance Armstrong.
Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo (66): The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, Straight Man, Bridge of Sighs, and many more books that are always at once funny and sad. Like this list in its finer moments.
Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer (75):Cometh the Hour is the sixth book of seven in The Clifton Chronicles. To compare, Bob Dylan has only one Chronicles.
End of Watch by Stephen King (68): King finishes off the trilogy started with Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers. You could say The King is back! if you were the type of person who would say such a thing.
The Sorcerer's Daughter: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks (72): The author of the books behind MTV's Shannara series has been publishing books since the days when MTV played music, which is something Peyton Manning doesn't even remember at this point.
A Hero of Franceby Alan Furst (74): A classic spy novelist in the mold of John le CarrÃ©, Graham Greene, and Frederick Forsyth.
Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure by Shirley MacLaine (81): Not only does MacLaine possess a depth of experience from this life to write about, she also has many more lifetimes to document. This one is about her time in Atlantis.