Writers Praising Writers: 15 of the Best Compliments from One Author to Another

We all know authors can insult one another with aplomb, but do those bitter wordsmiths ever have anything nice to say? Well, yes, of course. If we had to guess, we’d say that most authors’ biggest fans are other authors, who might understand a given piece of literature better than any mere mortal — or they might just be more likely to write about it. In the excellent collection Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, which hit shelves last week, 20 famous writers choose and introduce the short stories from the periodical that moved and thrilled them. In honor of the book’s publication, we’ve put together a few of our favorite author-on-author compliments. Click through to spread the love, and if we’ve missed your favorite compliment, add to our list in the comments.

“Donald Barthelme was a magician of language, and it would be most respectful, perhaps even ethical, not to look too closely into the workings of his magic. But it’s to the brilliant Barthelme’s credit that analysis of his methods does nothing to erode the joy of his stories. Like all good magic, Barthelme’s just cannot be explained away. And thank God for that.” — Ben Marcus on Barthelme’s “Several Garlic Tales” in Object Lessons

“With Adverbs, Daniel Handler, who’s always been a great stylist, goes ten steps further, to become something like an American Nabokov. He and the Russian man share a rapturous love of words, a quick and delicate wit, and a lyrical elegance that makes every single sentence silly with pleasure. On a broader level, Adverbs describes adolescence, friendship, and love with such freshness and power that you feel drunk and beaten up but still wanting to leave your own world and enter the one Handler’s created. Anyone who lives to read gorgeous writing will want to lick this book and sleep with it between their legs.” — Dave Eggers

“Kelly Link is probably the best short story writer currently out there, in any genre or none. She puts one word after another and makes real magic with them — funny, moving, tender, brave and dangerous. She is unique, and should be declared a national treasure, and possibly surrounded at all times by a cordon of armed marines.” — Neil Gaiman