When, if ever, do you abandon a favorite author? If you do, why do you abandon them?
I’ve done it many times. I’ve stopped reading the works of authors whose work I never expected to stop loving.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books, writers, and reading. Over the years, I’ve had many favorite writers
When I was a horse-crazy girl, I adored Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and Island Stallion books. I wanted to be a female Walter Farley when I grew up. I thought I would always love his work. Eventually, I outgrew his books and went on to other writers. A few years ago, I discovered that Farley hadn’t stopped writing when I’d stopped reading. I thought I’d enjoy catching up and reading the stories I’d missed. How disappointing to discover that Farley’s writing no longer held my interest.
As a teenager, I loved Emilie Loring’s books and read one after another. It soon became apparent that she’d been writing the same story over and over. Only the characters’ names and the settings were different. There was no reason to keep on reading.
More recently, I’ve enjoyed Patricia Cornwell’s books. I probably read at least fifteen of them. Even before I stopped reading her works, my pleasure in them was starting to pall. Her books became increasingly gory. Cornwell’s protagonist, Kay Scarpetta, is a medical examiner, who investigates crime scenes and performs autopsies, so of course, gore is to be expected. It seemed to me that in later stories the descriptions of crime scenes, the crimes themselves, and the autopsies became gratuitously gruesome as if the grisly details, and not the solving of the crime, were the point. What finally put an end to my reading of Cornwell’s mysteries was when she made a secondary character, Al Marino, behave in an ugly, criminal, totally out of character way. From the very first book, I never liked the way Cornwell treated Marino. He’s a seasoned police detective who regularly worked with Kay. He was supposed to be a good cop and a good guy, but the author treated him with contempt. She made him a fat, crude, semi-literate slob. His saving graces were his skill as a detective and his devotion to Scarpetta, who always outshone him. I’d already been thinking about giving up on these novels, but when there were no new books by my favorite authors available, I went back to Cornwell’s mysteries. The last straw for me was when she turned Marino into a rapist. No more Scarpetta. No more Cornwell.
There are still plenty of authors whose work I enjoy more. However, several of these writers now hang in the balance. Will I, or won’t I, read their most recent book? Writers get old and so does their writing.
J.A. Jance is one writer whose books I will most likely no longer automatically read just because she wrote them. I’ve faithfully read her J.P. “Beau” Beaumont, Ali Reynolds, Joanna Brady, and Walker Family series. Seattle police detective Beaumont was always my favorite. Was. After the last Beaumont mystery I read, I have major doubts. Jance rehashes the plot of an earlier book and does not improve on it. She also turns Beau into a doggie-daddy. There are too many dog-walks interrupting the flow of the plot. Too much dog poop. Not enough material to interest me. I even have doubts about her other series.
John Grisham is another long-time favorite. My cousin and I both loved his books and have fun discussing them. Grisham has had interesting well-developed characters, pertinent details, and complex, intriguing plots, with surprising twists. Until recently, he kept his details under control. In his most recent books, the details have become bloated, the plots have grown flimsy and the endings have become lame. My cousin read one of Grisham’s latest tomes and said it was, “nothing.” I trust that my cousin is right.
I’m sad that these reliable writers are no longer so reliable. If I read their novels again, it will be their older ones. Thank goodness new writers are always coming along. Thank goodness for libraries which allow me to sample these new discoveries without buying before I’m sure their works are worth the money. Thank goodness for older writers whose books remain to be discovered.
John Work Garrett Library. Baltimore, Maryland. Wouldn’t This be a Fabulous Library to Explore?