One More Fraught Thing

And then I’ll get off this rant for a while. RoseMarie took fraught further still with a couple of very interesting bits from the writing modern world and that of what sure seems like a better time. This nugget has Stephen King expounding on the relative success of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. What really caught our attention was King’s assertion that “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.”

Wow. Who knew we’d see the day that Stephen King would slam another enormously popular genre writer as not being able to “write worth a darn.” Way to forget the slings and arrows tossed your way, Steve.

I’m speaking here as someone who’s read all three authors. I’m also reliably informed that I’m a picky reader. Between King, Rowling and Meyer, I’d have to say that Meyer is the only one I really enjoyed. The only one who lit me up. Yes, I read a few of the Harry Potters and I believe when people said they got better, darker, more complex. But I found them derivative and not particularly magical. I’ve read some of Steve’s stuff, too. He writes a decent story, but he’s never been an author I sought out or passed on. Frankly, I like the movies they make of his books better than the books themselves – which is almost never true of any other book, so that says something, I think.

So why does King disdain Meyer’s books? He says:

“…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.”

Makes me wonder what Tabitha’s sex life is like. Speaking as a woman, not a girl, there’s a hell of a lot to say for flushing hot and cold at the touch of a hand on my skin. And believe me, I’m ready to deal with the overtly sexual feelings that go right along with that. Nothing wrong with extended foreplay. Take note, Stephen.

It all comes down to what we love to read, doesn’t it? That’s the primary parameter. The verdicts of sales and of the artists follow behind that. I probably like Meyer best because I’m a fan of sexual tension.

Speaking of artistry, here’s the nugget from the past, that RoseMarie found in the Davidson archives:

The Willa Cather Creative Writing Award was created by William C. Doub Kerr in 1937. Doub Kerr, a member of the class of 1915, helped found the Blue Pencil Club, which later became a chapter of Sigma Upsilon, a literary honor society. The prize for the award was a copy of one of Cather’s novels. The first recipient was Gibson Smith, Class of 1937 for his work “Satan Snake.” The award was suspended after two years and returned briefly from 1955-1958. In the spring of 1937, Doub Kerr wrote Willa Cather seeking her approval of the award. She replied with wit and caution:

“My Dear Mr. Kerr;
Thank you most for your friendly letter. But, honestly, I think the “new sails” have a better chance of making port when they are not taught “creative writing.” It can’t be taught, for one thing!*

Sincerely yours, Willa Cather.
*Perhaps it can be guided a little, modestly? I don’t like to be too sure.”

Somehow, I don’t see Willa lining up to lambast those ships that do make it to port, especially the ones that sell their cargo for a pretty penny. But then, maybe it was a kinder, less fraught world then.

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