Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's Not You, It's Me

Over the years I have found that my reading tastes aren’t very consistent. Authors I used to love have been sent packing (e.g. Tom Clancy, Orson Scott Card) as I’ve sought the thrill of new styles. In fact, I feel that I go through the same cycle with authors as I did with high school relationships. Using Michael Crichton as an example, here are the typical four stages I go through with an author:

Love at First Sight

This is the period where you first encounter an author and fall head over heels in love. Everything is new and fresh and after your first taste you see their huge back catalog and start salivating. I remember how Crichton's Jurassic Park not only captivated me by appealing to my childhood love of dinosaurs but also made me think by exposing me to the wondrous possibilities of science. He had me at velociraptor.

Current Example:

Jennifer Egan. A Visit from the Goon Squad is the only Egan book I have read and it pushed all my buttons. Her recent short story in The New Yorker composed solely of twitter updates, Black Box, left me desperately craving more. I’m madly in love.

All Hot and Bothered

This is the period when you can’t keep your hands off each other, spend the entire weekend in bed, love absolutely everything about the other person, and basically go insane. Right after I read Jurassic Park I dove headfirst into Crichton’s back catalog. Andromeda Strain became my favorite novel. I refused to see the movie the 13th Warrior because Eaters of the Dead was a great name and how dare they rename it to make it more palatable for the ignorant masses who didn’t understand Crichton’s genius. I was convinced The Great Train Robbery was the greatest historical novel of all time and that Sphere was an underrated masterpiece that future generations would discover and mock us for not appreciating.

Current Example:

David Mitchell. I am so obsessed with Mitchell right now that I purchased a book of critical essaysSarah Dillon’s David Mitchell: Critical Essays, which all kidding aside, is awesome. about his work with titles like Speculative Fiction as Postcolonial Critique in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas because I had already finished all his novels, short stories, reviews, interview transcripts, and grocery lists.

Everything's Way Too ComfortableAs best described by this Halestorm song.

This is the period where you’ve been together for a long time and the romance is fading. You start dreading another Valentine’s Day, you let farts rip instead of trying to sneak 'em, and that person who sits next to you in homeroom is starting to look pretty good. With Crichton, when Timeline came out I remember being slightly let down. Prey left me with a vague sense of ennui and State of Fear just got us into an argument about global warming and we went to bed angry.

Current Example:

Stephen King. I was once a huge Stephen King fan and obsessed over every single detail of the first four Dark Tower books. I was in a Stephen King fan club and I own about 70 of his books. But nowadays instead of buying his new stuff the day it comes out I wait until it’s on the Bargain Books shelf. And after what King did to my all-time favorite bad guy Randall Flagg I just can’t bring myself to read The Wind Through the Keyhole.

The Messy Breakup

It’s over. No couples counseling or lists of what you like the most about each other is going to fix things. I mean really Michael? Was there even a plot to Next or was it just a list of ideas you thought were pretty cool? And I’m not even going to try Pirate Latitudes. What the hell does that even mean? I’m picturing Capt. Jack Sparrow looking at a Mercator map and that’s not a good thing!

Current Example:

Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game blew my mind and I fell deeply in love. The rest of the Ender series was great, the Alvin Maker series was severely underrated, and I recommended Enchantment to every person I knew as it was the greatest modern fairy tale ever written. I went and saw Card speak 3 or 4 times and got about 25 books personalized. And then he went off the deep end and started spewing vile bigotry and nonsensical conspiracy theories. His political opinions started coloring everything he wrote. Ender in Exile was the last straw. I kicked him to the curb and started seeing Jesse BallGo read Ball's The Way Through Doors if, like me, you love the weird..

So who are some of the authors you have fallen in and out of love with? Are you in the midst of a messy breakup or are you all hot and bothered?

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