Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Makes You Stop Reading a Particular Author?

Have you ever read a short story or novel by an author and been turned off so much that you never read or wanted to read anything else that this author had written?  For me, it's Joe Haldeman.  I read his short story "More Than the Sum of His Parts" and was revolted by one part of the story.  A part where a man whose body has been repaired with mechanical limbs has torn a woman in half to see how strong his new body is.

I felt, and still feel, that there were better ways of doing this than splitting a woman in half during sex.  I wondered if this section was added just to show that women were disposable.  Even after a year this story still sticks me.  The man can write, but I'm also afraid that I will find more of this disrespect for women in his work.

Thinking back on the story I realize that he's showing how the repairs are turning the man's mind, but the lack of remorse for what he's done...that just didn't set well with me.   


Naomi Johnson said...

I stop reading an author when the joke/situation has worn thin (Janet Evanovich), or when the author turns the writing in a direction I don't enjoy (sorry, Michael Koryta, but I hear the next book will be crime fic minus the paranormal so I will re-engage with you). And I stop reading when each new book leaves me feeling manipulated and I begin seeing the gears behind the Wiz's curtain (yes, Michael Connelly).

sandra seamans said...

Yes, series authors tend to lose readers for all sorts of reasons, Naomi. I quit Patricia Cornwell because she killed off a series character then brought him back after a two book mourning period.

Elizabeth said...

I read a book called Every Dead Thing by John Connolly, which had so many gruesome deaths, each one more horrendous than the next, that I hated myself for finishing the book! And it isn't that I can't handle blood and guts. I used to work in a pathology lab.

sandra seamans said...

Yeah, i hate when an author describes every gruesome detail instead of allowing the reader to use their imagination to fill in the details.

Manuel Royal said...

I thought that Joe Haldeman story sounded familiar. Now I remember reading it about a quarter century ago. (Just now reread it at Lightspeed Magazine's site.)

Sandra, I'm trying to understand this. Do you think no author should ever depict people doing terrible things, or have a deranged or psychopathic protagonist? That would rule out an awful lot of fiction.

I stop reading a particular writer's work when it stops appealing to me. (I know that's not very helpful.) Sometimes this is because the writing changes, or (if it's a series) the story is just worn out; but sometimes it's because I changed. Getting serious about my own writing has made me overly critical.

I try not think too much about the author as a person while I'm enjoying a story. Many good writers have been less than admirable in real life, or stated opinions that I might find loathesome. (Though with Orson Scott Card, I genuinely just don't like his writing.)

sandra seamans said...

No, I write crime fiction and my characters do terrible things, what I don't care for is when they seem to do things just for shock value instead of the cruelty coming out of the situation naturally. (If that makes any sense.)

In that particular story it felt like he just tossed it in, there didn't seem to be any real reason why the character needed to do that.

sandra seamans said...

I forgot to add that I always try to separate the author from the work. With Haldeman, it's not him personally. I enjoyed the story except for that section and he made good points about being human but I'm afraid that I might to be forced to read something like that in his work again.

Dusty said...

I'm a Joe Hill fan and I've read all of Locke & Key plus every short story and novel he's released.

But his short story (co-wrote with his dad Stephen King) called "In the Tall Grass" made me sick. Same sort of experience that you had with Halderman. I won't go into gory detail, but I thought it was unnecessary and didn't serve the plot. That said, I can overlook 1 mistake since I was so familiar with the rest of his work.

But if "In the Tall Grass" was the first Joe Hill story I read I probably wouldn't have picked up anything else.

Al Tucher said...

This topic reminds me of K.C. Constantine, whose Mario Balzic series was a favorite in the 70s and 80s. Then he started letting his gift for dialog run wild. The last straw was a multi-page tirade by a character, an author, against public libraries. His gripe was that libraries steal sales from authors. It went on so long and was so irrelevant to the story that I could only conclude that K.C. Constantine was indulging his own opinion.

sandra seamans said...

I think everyone has a tolerance level of where they'll allow a writer to take them, Dusty, and sometimes they just cross that line.

I had the same experience with Carl Hiaasen, Al. I read Striptease and loved it but the next book I picked up was so full of environmental concerns for Florida that I lost interest quickly.

G. B. Miller said...

For me, it's not so much the content but more of "will it ever end?"

I stopped reading Robert Jordan because his Wheel Of Time fantasy series seemed to go on with no ending in sight, and worse, because each volume in the series was 800+ pages, it made it very difficult to follow all the plot lines from book.

What's worse, because of my experience with Robert Jordan's fantasy series (I gave up after volume 7), I stopped reading the fantasy genre for pretty close to two decades.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, G. B., the length of most fantasy series has kept me from reading much in that genre, but I've been finding some stand-alones that I enjoy very much.

Sorry to take so long responding, my server was out for several days.