Anyone want to help Stephen Crane out?

Reader who enjoyed Paul Auster’s sharp new novel, “Black Waters,” should take a moment to check out the cover of “A Beautiful Mind” author Stephen Crane’s biography, which was also released this month. The…

Reader who enjoyed Paul Auster’s sharp new novel, “Black Waters,” should take a moment to check out the cover of “A Beautiful Mind” author Stephen Crane’s biography, which was also released this month.

The portrait, which features a swanky fireplace under a marquee bearing the signatures of several literary greats, is a nice touch, although I had a problem immediately upon seeing it: No, it’s not Edmund Wilson’s face on the cover, but it appears it could be.

I mean, if it wasn’t Stephen Crane, who else would it be? As it happens, it is Wilson, portrayed as a slightly pudgy dwarf in “Adam Smith.” But the resemblance still works.

I mean, yes, it is true that Auster has agreed to speak at a book festival in Alexandria, Virginia, shortly after reading from “Black Waters,” but I think you’ll agree that it’s unlikely he’d choose to attend such a fest unless he’d chosen it himself. (Here’s his bio on the Virginia Book Festival website.)

So, as a means of avoiding a bit of a head-scratcher, I thought I’d let you take the lead with a poll: On a scale of 1 to 10, should Stephen Crane himself have accepted Auster’s invitation? The question is submitted via the Library of America’s website.

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