If there was any doubt about Mr. Prescott's judgments, he defined his positions in an essay written after his retirement and published in The Saturday Review. First of all, he said that "all critics practice a craft which consists of personal, subjective opinion tempered by experience and wide reading." It was, he said, "not only inevitable but fitting and proper that they should disagree among themselves."
Then he named the contemporary novelists he thought were "worthy of thoughtful attention," but who were "excessively overpraised" by his colleagues. On Mr. Prescott's list were William Faulkner ("the most distinguished of these intermittently brilliant authors"), John O'Hara, Robert Penn Warren, John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, John Updike, J. D. Salinger, William Styron, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Laurence Durrell, Gunter Grass and Vladimir Nabokov.
In contrast, he said, there were novelists who were "more significant and truthful interpreters of life." Their novels "represent the best fiction of the past 25 years." On this list were John P. Marquand, James Gould Cozzens, Louis Auchincloss, Conrad Richter, John Hersey, Joyce Cary, C. P. Snow Rumer Godden and Evelyn Waugh.
Debatable for sure, but there is much to be said for that list of writers he thought were "more significant and truthful interpreters of life."