Writers We Loved in the ’90s: Where Are They Now?


The ’90s publishing paradigm favored confessional memoirs, legal thrillers, and books about genetically recreated dinosaurs taking over amusement parks. We couldn’t get enough of the stuff. But though we still enjoy the confessional memoir, we’re less inclined to go for a Crichton rip-off today, for whatever the reason. Probably because we’re too engrossed in reading vampire fiction for chaste teens or books about four-year-olds seeing the light. What were the authors you loved in the ’90s that you think fell of the map a bit, readers? Let us know in the comments section below.

Katherine Dunn

Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Image

Last year, The Paris Review published a short story by Dunn titled “Rhonda Discovers Art,” one of the first fiction contributions in years by the elusive author of Geek Love — a bizarre, hilarious, and heartwarming novel that was nominated for a National Book Award in 1989, and dominated the literary scene well into the ’90s. Caitlin Roper, the former managing editor of The Paris Review, wrote on their blog, “A while ago, I wrote Katherine Dunn a fan letter. In reaction to my heaps of heartfelt praise, she said simply, ‘I’m so grateful that you found it funny. Not everyone gets the jokes.’” You can read “Rhonda Discovers Art” here; it’s an excerpt from Cut Man, a novel Dunn has been working on for decades; we’ll continue to wait patiently for its arrival. In the meantime, anyone who is interesting in boxing should hunt down Dunn’s articles on the subject; you won’t be disappointed.

Elizabeth Wurtzel

At 26, Wurtzel wrote her memoir on youthful depression, Prozac Nation ; she later worked as a journalist, then applied to law school at Yale back in 2000, and is now a practicing lawyer at Boies, Schiller, & Flexner. In a 2009 article in Elle, she boasted, “I can get what I want in so much of life. I can sell sand to the Saudis, tea to the Bengalis. I get fired from one great job and then hired by a better organization. I decide in my thirties to go to law school and get into the very best one despite some questionable credentials.” And yet, she cannot find real love, which, she says, tends to be increasingly difficult as you get older and the boys stay young. You can find her in Manhattan and on Twitter, musing, “My dog also likes to hang out in the lobby of the Mercer Hotel, down the block. Loves hotel lobbies. Maybe she was a hooker in a prior life?”

Jerry Stahl

Stahl is probably best known for his memoir about addiction, Permanent Midnight. Unlike Wurtzel, he wrote this book later in life, after he had been a successful TV writer with a resume that includes an episode of Twin Peaks. Apparently he’s now writing a screenplay for HBO about the journalist Martha Gellhorn and her husband, Ernest Hemingway. (Gellhorn was Hemingway’s third wife.)

Irvine Welsh

We don’t believe Welsh was ever a young man, to be honest. His age cannot be determined, though the rings show he’s around 50 years on this earth. He’s been writing a lot since Transpotting, but American audiences haven’t been following him as closely since then. Or have we? Readers, when was the last time you picked up a book by this fine Scotsman? For those who can’t get enough of that era, he released Reheated Cabbage: Tales of Chemical Degeneration in 2009, which features a collection of stories from his Trainspotting years.

Susanna Kaysen

The author of Girl, Interrupted is now all grown up and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As many of you know, this 1993 memoir about her experience in a psychiatric institution was later made into a terrible movie that damaged girls of all ages and sexualities loved starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. Kaysen’s last book was published back in 2001, titled, The Camera My Mother Gave Me .

Helen Fielding

The author of the 1996 worldwide hit novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary, tried again three years later with the single-lady-in-the-city formula and came up with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which was also made into a film. Fifteen years after the first Bridget novel, Helen is writing a third novel about Ms. Jones, and in the meantime is tweeting as the characters from the novels. You can find Bridget (@bridgetjoneshf), Mark Darcy (@markdarcylegal), Daniel Cleaver (@danielcleaverxx), and Richard Finch (@richardjfinch) writing about their lives in 140 characters or less. Fielding is also working with Lily Allen on a Bridget Jones-based musical, starring Sheridan Smith, which will open in London next year.

Terry McMillan

What happens when you go to the Islands and find a young thing to love? You get your groove back. But what happens when he turns out to be gay? Well, then you go on Oprah. The best-selling author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back appeared on Oprah with her ex-husband, Jonathan, in order to tell the story of their breakup and how she rose from the ashes like the fine phoenix she is. Afterward, she attempted to sue her ex for $40 million, citing “emotional distress and ruining her reputation.” (She withdrew her case before it went to trial.) She also tweeted that Will and Jada Pinkett’s kids were being “pimped out” for fame, but later apologized. The lady is an unapologetic diva. (Which is just to say that she’s a real diva.) Recently, she released the follow-up to Waiting to Exhale, titled, Getting To Happy.

Arthur Golden

Golden wrote Memoirs of a Geisha in 1997, which became an award-winning movie eight years later. The film ended up angering a fair amount of Japanese people, since they objected to a Chinese actress (Zhang Ziyi) playing the coveted role of a geisha. Sacrilege! After the Japanese publication of the novel, the woman who provided Golden with background information on the secret life of geisha took him to court for defamation of character, since she objected to her portrayal (and that of geisha in general) in the novel. Mineko Iwasaki eventually wrote her own story, Geisha, a Life, which was published in 2002. In 2003, Golden told the Harvard Crimson that he was writing a new novel set in the mid-1800s about the meatpacking industry in Chicago, and that’s the last we’ve heard of him.

Douglas Coupland

Coupland’s 1991 novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture , spawned such terms as McJob and…Gen X. Since then, he’s been doing a fair amount of writing. Generation A was published in 2009, and involves a group of five disparate individuals who are forced to become instant Internet celebrities and then end up on a remote Canadian island with a morally questionable scientist. No, we are not making this plot up.

John Gray

After writing what he claims was the best-selling book of the 1990s, John Gray didn’t throw in the towel and call it a day. No, sir. As “an avid follower of his own health and relationship advice,” Gray has continued to provide relationship advice to couples beyond what he first gave in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus . Though his latest book, Venus On Fire, Mars On Ice , may be well-worn territory to some… one should never say such a thing to his true fans. You can find more of Mr. Gray here. You can also find his daughter, Lauren, who runs a relationship column simply called, “Ask Lauren.” Check out her introduction below and tell us whether you would take her advice: