February 4, 2009

Who Peed in Stephen King's Wheaties?

Image: www.stephenking999.com
I love reading. To me, it's one of the greatest pleasures known to man. My idea of heaven is to be surrounded by as many books as I could possibly read, beachfront. Margarita optional.

Because I love to read, I have read many, many books throughout the years by many, many authors. I respect anyone who can get a book published. Heck, as a struggling writer, I respect anyone who can finish a novel. That being said, there are some authors out there that I just don't get. I don't understand their popularity and I don't get into their books. (Jodi Picoult, I'm talking to you).

Apparently Stephen King has this problem as well. The difference is that King gave an interview to USA Weekend and did a hatchet job on some of his fellow scribes, including current "It" author Stephenie Meyer.

Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real
difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t
write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”
But then King recalls that when his mom was alive, she read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason mysteries, obsessively when he was growing up. “He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful,” King says. “Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe
joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and
it’s not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of
the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her
forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for
girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal
with yet.”

While I would hardly consider Stephenie Meyer worthy of Shakespeare, Austen or Steinbeck, to be fair, she is a great storyteller. Very entertaining. And isn't that the point?

Obviously King and I disagree on Jodi Picoult. I think she's tedious, stereotypical and soapy in her writing style. I have only read one book of hers (Nineteen Minutes) but it was enough. I have no desire to read another.

And I have read a few James Patterson books. Again, he's not claiming to be producing works of mind altering literature. He writes books that are entertaining.

I am a fan of Dean Koontz. And while it is true that Mr. Koontz has turned out a few books that I was less than thrilled with (and he more often than not turns out a fabulous piece of work), I think the same could be said for Mr. King.

Can Mr. King be so critical of his fellow authors when each and every one of them could conceivably say the same about his work? I'll be the first to admit that I have not read each and every one of Mr. King's books but the vast majority of them seem excessively page happy. And I'm sure there are people out there that just don't find Stephen King, his books and his subject material their cup of tea.

But for Mr. King to take one of the most popular authors today and state his highly subjective opinion that she simply cannot write sounds more like sour grapes than any deep thought process.

1 comment:

Jennifer Roland said...

It is often hard to distinguish between writing skill and storytelling skill. In the perfect world, a published writer will have both.

I have to agree with King that Meyer is not the best writer, but she is telling a story that readers find compelling. As I read the Twilight series, I kept hoping that her skill would increase. Unfortunately, it seemed to stay the same or even regress.