Thursday, February 05, 2009

Because we haven't discussed Twilight enough

I just finished the second Twilight book, and coincidentally Nathan Bransford has an interesting debate going on regarding some alleged trash talk Stephen King did about Stephenie Meyer. Kiersten posted about it a couple of days ago.

Not going to weigh in with my own Russian-novel-length thoughts on this debate (don't want to be labeled a "hater" by SM's rabid fans) except to say that King is for the most part absolutely right. I don't think Stephenie Meyer is a great writer. Period. Go ahead and hate me, talk about how it's only her first series of books, how she never claimed to be a great writer and/or better and/or similar to J.K. Rowling. But she does tell a compelling story. And as much as I truly hate Bella (I know, I know) I read New Moon to the end because I had to find out what happened to her. I'll probably read the others, too.

There's room in the world (and on bookstore shelves) for all kinds of books because most people feel like reading different books at different times. Sometimes I just want mindless entertainment and I don't care if it doesn't give me any insight into the human experience or make me a more well-rounded person or whatever. Hence the Twilight books.

Meyer came up with the idea, wrote her books and millions of people fell in love with them (including every teen girl I know..seriously, girls at my church can quote passages from her books). She absolutely deserves her success.

(This does not mean I'm not totally willing to rant [in person, not on blog] about her cringe-worthy writing, made-up verbs like "ghosting", intensly repetitive facial descriptions, overuse of words like "snarl" and how Bella is the worst teen role model ever. Because I am.)

But, true or not, Kings comments were a little bit hateful. I get it. If somone like Stephen King were ripping into my beloved J.K. Rowling (who I will heart forever) I'd be totally angry and have no problem ranting about how lame he is.


Captain Hook said...

You'll hate me, but I see a great deal of similarity between SM's writing abilities and JKR's. But there are things people have to remember:

1) Both books were written for younger people, not adults, so you're not going to find literary quality in their books.

2) Both women had fascinating stories that hold the reader's imagination regardless of the actual technicality of writing.

PS: I would read either of them over an SK boook anyday.

AC said...

Ok I'm actually going to argue with your first point, CH. There are tons of books written for younger people with literary quality every bit as good and brilliant as good literature written for adults. I could name about a million of them at any age range (though my personal fave is Harriet the Spy--I wrote my undergrad thesis on it and other contemporary works).

There has actually been much blog argument over how quality YA writing is. And I think the answer is that it's just like adult fiction: you've got some novels with lots of substance, some that are pure fluff, and many in between.

Kiersten said...

I'm actually not a rabid fan of Meyer's books, and think that they portray potentially dangerous relationship patterns as ultimate romance. Not healthy.

However, as I said on my blog, I think King's remarks were just plain mean.

Bevie said...

King is mean. I don't care how well he writes. As a successful writer/author there is no excuse for it.

Personally, I cann't read King's books. In my opinion, they s*ck. Well written? Sure. Big deal. I don't like what he writes. Don't even watch the movies.

Who cares whether Meyer writes "poorly" and King writes "well"? I read Kiersten's blog entry on the matter and she said it so well: Meyer knows her target audience. Isn't that what writing well is? Writing so your target audience wants to read more? So the writing isn't up to the standards of people who read other types of work. Big deal. J.R.R.Tolkien was critized for Lord of the Rings all his life by people who preferred other types of work. Yet Lord of the Rings has become the standard for great fantasy.

Meyer's audience loves her. And that's all that mattes.

Christy Raedeke said...

AC, I agree with you on every point. Especially your rebuttal to Captain Hook. The fact that there is no literary merit to books for young people is a dusty old notion that holds no truth. (And it's a particularly ironic statement coming from someone who has chosen their blogger name from J.M. Barrie's classic children's book!)

Captain Hook said...

First of all, most "classics" are full of horrible writing. They are loaded with weak verbs and passive voice and run on sentences. They are classics because the story and characters hold your interest, not because the actual writing is good. This a debate that has been going on for a long time - whether the writers of classics were really good writers.

Second, I didn't choose my name because of the book, but because that has been my nickname since I was 4 years old. Since I have only one hand and a prosthetic hook in place for the other, all the kids started calling me that.

Christy Raedeke said...

Sorry about that. I felt bad the whole time I was in the shower and ran back here to delete my comment before anyone saw it! Too late. It was snarky and I apologize. I'm just sensitive about the fact that many writers consider writing YA fiction a lesser art. And considering this is a blog by a YA writer, I felt even more pugnacious. My bad.

AC said...

A lot of us are passionate about YA around here. I know I often (quite often) say stuff I regret later when I get excited about defending favorite books and authors.

But everyone's entitled to her or his opinion around this blog, no matter what it is. One thing that's cool about Meyer is that her writing does seem to provoke heated dialogue about literature - esp. YA literature - and I don't think that's ever a bad thing.

Crimogenic said...

AC, I love the HP series, hate the Twilight series, most for the same reasons you listed. Bella was one of the most annoying characters I've seen. Also, Kirsten was dead right about the "potentially dangerous relationship patterns as ultimate romance." That bug me.

Amy said...

Stumbled upon your blog from Barrie's and I just wanted to say that I am in complete agreement with you about Twilight! Loved the series but Stephenie is not a great writer... and Bella drove me nuts haha. :)

Justus M. Bowman said...

Your post is too apologetic. Bring out the fire! ;)

I just started Twilight to find out what all the commotion is about (plus book club "obligations"), and I don't think Meyer is a great writer.

I'll admit the book is beginning to get interesting, but the first pages sucked, and I think that had a lot to do with Bella. It's as if Meyer didn't like the character either, so she kept telling me the color and size of various objects.

I agree with some others who posted here when I say Rowling isn't exactly my top pick for super writer either...I'll stop before I go too far (too late? :P).

The most silly thing to me is how upset people are by Stephen King's comments. Even if we assume the average person isn't allowed to voice a thought (terrible assumption, eh?), one has to admit Stephen King has a right to say what he wants about Meyer.

This is his field. It's like a painter saying he dislikes the work of another painter. Are we going to cry about it? No. Let someone ask him why. I'm sure he has "valid" reasons.

People need to realize there is such a thing as a disagreement. You can't run around punching or badmouthing every one who criticizes unpopular books or utilizes different condiments on sandwiches.