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Discussions about books > When Does A Reader Know Too Much?

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message 1: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I read this blog post today and thought it tied in directly to some of the conversation we've had regarding authors:
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When Does a Reader Know Too Much by John from Dear Author http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2011/...

There are times when I wonder if being ignorant would have made my life easier. Over the past few months, the disappearance of my publishing world ignorance has made its way into my reading life. Specifically since I’ve begun turning to the internet for book-related advice and news. My internet de-virginizing has lead me to learn more about authors and publishers than I would have ever known as a blind reader.

There was a rather surprising incident over at a fairly popular fiction blog, for instance, where a blogger made a comment about how she felt uncomfortable with a character’s homophobic comments and (in her opinion) they didn’t have any place in the narrative. An articulate, honest, and legitimate review. Then in the comments, I see that a certain YA author who is a fairly large seller is attacking the reviewer because she is apparently calling foul on the author of the book being reviewed. Even though that didn’t happen.

An author making a complete idiot of themselves over a small controversy involving their work was surprising to me. I’d soon come to realize this happened with a lot of people, including several large names in YA and romance authors of various degrees of success. These incidents easily made me rethink whether or not the authors were worthy of buying.

Learning about an author’s politics, religion, sexuality, family life, etc. leads to knowing quite a lot about who they are as people beyond their published work. The internet provides an all-too available pool of information for readers who want to get to know more about someone they possibly admire very much because of great writing or characters or stories. It was how I came to find out about the award winning young adult/science fiction and fantasy author Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game has gotten thousands of awards and recommendations, and before I attempted to buy it Google was used…and I heard some rumors.

Dreaded confirmation came from @courtneymilan, who sent me a link to this post written by Card himself. Confirming the views that I pretty much knew to be true. Then blowing up my anger even more as said views surpassed their possible saturation point. I am a gay teenager. I do not need to realize that this author – who is in tons of classroom libraries and on many awards lists – has fans who listen to him say things like this and agree with him because he’s Orson Scott Card.

*Insert many swear words and the sound of banging objects at your own risk*

This brought on an important question to me: When do readers reach the point where they know to much about an author? When enough is enough and they realize that the author can no longer be separated from their work?

A popular romance reviewer had a less negative experience involving a recent release. Her review is a good study in how knowing an author well could spell trouble through their work in a different context. She follows the author on Twitter and knows a lot of her in-jokes and the way she speaks. Reading the book made her uncomfortable and she felt that the was basically writing about herself – creating a one-time case where the author seemed to be writing herself as the protagonist in the reviewer’s eyes.

Now other reviewers found the book readable because they didn’t know the author so well based on her presence in Twitter. While not as talked about as issues involving author behavior, the insertion of an author’s extremely personal traits and habits could easily effect more readers than ever with the way they can get to know an author through Tweets, blog posts, or Facebook walls. Not to mention authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, who on further research, have political comments and ideals hidden within their stories that go well past a few character quirks.

Most recently, there is controversy over the author-run book packaging organization run by James Frey. He’d already made a public mark on his reputation from the Oprah incident, making many readers swear off his novel when they realized he blatantly lied to get sales. Now he uses other authors and cowrites with them, taking nearly all of the money he makes from the books and series he’s had signed.

In depth morals aside, this creates a gap between the books packaged by this particular author and more aware readers. Many have taken pledges to not read them or read them in such a way that it wouldn’t stimulate a huge increase in sales for the books. This scenario got a stronger reaction from readers in the sense that it directly effected sales among a large (if fairly isolated) reader community online. Some readers feel they know too much about the origins of this packaging company and the author that heads it to feel comfortable supporting it.

A good percentage of those readers probably picked up the book prior to this knowledge or were thinking of picking it up. While authorial knowledge isn’t always a moral thing (in the case of the authorial/protagonist similarity, it was a one time incident resulting in extreme familiarity with an author’s online personae and a newly attempted book format by the author as well), it has the potential to strongly impact the reader in a way that shifts their perspective of the reading experience for a particular book, author, or genre.

Whether it’s religion, politics, ideals, or online actions – exactly where does it get to the point where, as a reader, you find yourself knowing too much?


message 2: by Kevin (last edited Mar 02, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) Authors have to know when it is enough and where to draw the line between basically, an their novel which is their work and their personal life.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I can understand where he's coming from. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. I approve of Card, his works and his underlying Christian themes. I boycott Philip Pullman because he's an outspoken hater of all things Christian. However both authors have every right to let their beliefs influence their writing just as I, as an informed reader, have the right to read or boycott their works based on my personal beliefs. I definitely agree that accessibility to an authors personal viewpoints often effects a readers opinion of that author's work. That doesnt bother me personally. In fact I appreciate that accessibility and the greater depth it gives. So, my answer would be that there's no such thing as knowing too much. I'm sure it's worked to many an author/readers advantage as often as it has to their detriment.


message 4: by Lou (new)

Lou (loumassignani) I think Card is human garbage, and I'd rather use his books as fuel. Clearly I don't agree with his bullshit. My question though is why would dudes that write stories about dragons and laser beams think I give a fuck about their real world political views, whatever they are.


message 5: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I appreciate subtlety if an author wants to cram their beliefs down my throat, lol.

I try not to get too much personal detail about authors - I don't want their personal life to intrude upon my reading enjoyment. I feel the same way about actors, too. I used to love Mel Gibson but I can't support hatred of any kind. I'm always aware that the hatred can easily turn against me.

I also hate authors who feel they have the right to chastise readers for bad reviews, library use, and any one of hundreds of things they think we should do.


message 6: by Kevin (last edited Mar 02, 2011 06:55PM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) Lou wrote: "I think Card is human garbage, and I'd rather use his books as fuel. Clearly I don't agree with his bullshit. My question though is why would dudes that write stories about dragons and laser beam..."

Harsh man, harsh, hey but I am the same with The Name of the Wind. Also I feel the same way about his work lately, and come on finish what you are know for Ender and Alvin and stop coming out with b.s. that matches with contemporary readers by copying off other authors with non original ideas, this then gets rid of his core fan base.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I think it all falls back on the fact that as readers we have the right to put down a novel at any time if we think an author is getting too preachy. Totally feel you on Mel Gibson, MrsJoseph. Disappointing cause i really enjoyed his older stuff.

Authors chastising readers for expressing opinions is ridiculous and certainly can't do anything to improve their reputations


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 21, 2011 04:00PM) (new)

This is a touchy subject but if following your faith's tenets makes you a bigot by not supporting or espousing homosexuality then between Christianity,Judaism and Islam, there are literally Billions of bigots in the world. Ugh too volatile a subject.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I approved when certain states legalized civil unions. I had a gay groomsmen in my wedding whose union i was a part of years later. *shrugs*I totally get where you're coming from as well and don't blame you for not wanting to support someone of whose opinion you don't approve. It's just the bigot part I disagree with. Not approving of homosexuality is not the same as fostering Hatred towards it. I definitely dont approve of any form of hate mongering. I don't think homosexuality should be a matter of persecution by any means but most Abrahamic faiths do hold it as a sin, tho no greater than any other. I agree that people should be taken as they come but I don't think that a homosexual should be persecuted for their lifestyle any more than a Christian or Mormon or Jew should be persecuted as a bigot for following their faith.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Sadly tolerance for differing beliefs/viewpoints is more and more difficult to find. You're a very forward thinker.

You didn't say anything untoward. Its just bigot is an inflammatory word in my opinion. Many people of faith are afraid to express their viewpoints, no matter how well spoken, for fear of being termed a bigot.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments Interesting discussion, for the most part. You know I really like the book Josey Wales: Two Westerns : Gone to Texas/The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales and of course the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales. Some years after seeing the movie and reading the book/books I discovered that Forrest Carter (the author) was a segregationist, white supremacist, had founded a KKK splinter group and then was caught up in a scandal for faking a false identity as a Cherokee to hide his past and sell more books (he wrote a book based on Cherokee life). You know what. I still like the movie and the book is still good.

Of late Mel Gibson has shown a proclivity to get drunk in public and say some hateful and sad things. I've know drunks before. They often say a lot when they're drunk that they're sorry for later. Personally even with his remarks carefully recorded and placed on line for everyone to hear, I've never felt comfortable condemning him for them and flushing his entire life for what he said when he was drunk... Just me.

Orson Scott Card. Personally I'm not a Mormon. I'm at this time reading his book The Lost Gate. Unless it takes a major turn for the worst I'm going to give it a good rating and review. Now the book is obviously heavily influenced by Mormon Cosmology. So what? I'm not going to be subverted and have my beliefs changed against my will because he let's his views filter into his work.

There are writers (for example Terry Goodkind) whom I pretty much don't read anymore because their books tend toward preaching or are told in such a heavy handed way you can't avoid the idea that they're trying to evangelize an idea or belief system. Pullman was mentioned before, he's among these. He makes no secret of what he wants to convince me/you of. I don't read him anymore...but I don't try to get his books banned or something either.

As Nicki paraphrased our very freedom rests on the attitude that "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." I ran across a reviewer of The Lost Gate before I read it who rated it a 1 star book and then proceeded to say nothing about the book except that they would never read it because of remarks Mr. Card had made. Okay, that's their right, but by giving a rating and review as they did they were giving a false, misleading impression. The book is good and it's not a political piece.

We each have the freedom to read an author or refuse to for whatever reason, but I am bothered when people condemn a work without reading it or because they've heard the author is a Democrat or a Republican or a Libertarian or a Baptist or an atheist or a theist or left handed or whatever. Sometimes an author's work will reflect their world view and their beliefs (and sometimes not). Those who like the point of view and agree with it will read it others won't. Other times a writer may build a story around a certain world view or whatever but do it so skillfully that the story can be read without that jumping out at you (Tolkien for instance).

So...just my two cents worth, decide for yourself but be aware that just because a person may disagree with you it doesn't mean they hate you... AND the laws or rules that let a given group be censored or silenced today will still be there later. Silencing the NAZIs today may lead to you being silenced tomorrow.

The market will decide. Books that spew hate will have only a limited readership, don't buy them. We don't need to worry about keeping someone else from buying them.


message 12: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I really try my best not to look up an author's life. I just don't want to know most of the time. I've always used books as my refuge in life and I don't want that enjoyment ruined.

Authors have a responsibility to write their books, that's about it. I don't care that your kitten has 3 legs nor do I want to know that you hate all people with green eyes. I start to get annoyed when authors are heavy handed with their opinion - even when I agree with them. When I want a sermon I attend church or I read the bible, I don't pick up books with swords or talking birds.


message 13: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Speaking of authors chastising readers - a GR user reviewed a book and gave it 1 star. The author of the book plus two of her friends jumped on the comment thread of the review to "take him to task" about his review. When the comments started attracting attention the authors deleted most of the out of control comments. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

You can still see where he's commented back to them.


message 14: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Fantastic! A discussion about homosexual marriage, bigotry, Mel Gibson, the KKK and the bias of varying organized religions ... I LOVE Goodreads!!!

P.S. I really have nothing to add ... just gonna go pop some popcorn and settle in for the show. Please continue, pretend I'm not here. :-)


message 15: by Tina (last edited Mar 03, 2011 05:05AM) (new)

Tina | 177 comments I honestly don't want to know very much about an author's personal life or their personal views. If things start to leak into their books that feel like they are lecturing at you rather than telling a story that can be a turn off and I might give them the side-eye the next time.

I don't mind differences of thought or philosophpy. As Grant mentions above there is a fine line between disapproving of something (homosexuality, interracial marriage for instance) and actively working against it and spewing hatred about it. I think each reader has his or her own line in the sand about what will turn them off an author once they learn more about an author outside his or her work.

I tend not to care so much about what they believe but about how they act and what they do. If OSC has beliefs about homosexuality that march differently from mine that is one thing, but my understanding is that he also financially supports initiatives that are actively against gay rights. The former doesn't really concern me, it is the latter that does. So, yeah, I won't contribute to that by buying his work. That said, I already own Ender's Game (bought used) and continue to enjoy it despite what I know about the author. But I console myself that he won't profit from me.

Outside of that, I truthfully don't tend to know a lot about authors personal beliefs. The authors that are on my do not buy list for reasons that have nothing to do with their writing got there by good old fashioned Jackassery.

One author, I simply disliked how she interacted with her fans on her blog and how some of that behavior made it's way into her books. There was such an insider's cliquish feeling to some of the stuff that was being written that it turned me off.

On Amazon there have been some incredibly epic author melt-downs in reaction to what aren't even negative reviews but rather apathetic ones. One author and her posse got a reviewer banned, another author said she felt threatened and planned to sic the FBI on a reviewer.

Many of these have tended to be in the romance community and that online community networks very well so these people tend to get outed rather quickly. The thread that MrsJoseph mentions above re:GR member TeddyPig has already made it out into the romance blogosphere and that author has really give herself a black eye over it.


message 16: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (breakofdawn) Clay wrote: "Fantastic! A discussion about homosexual marriage, bigotry, Mel Gibson, the KKK and the bias of varying organized religions ... I LOVE Goodreads!!!

P.S. I really have nothing to add ... just gonna..."


Pass the popcorn please? :)

I have nothing to add either, but it is an interesting discussion.


message 17: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Hmm ... guess I'll toss in my two cent's worth as well. Like Tina, I usually know very little about an author prior to reading their stuff. I've found that an author's biases and intellectual proclivities will usually make themselves known within the story itself far more accurately than as espoused in a few broad brushed lines of a concisely worded bio, an opposing reader's review or a smattering of fan instigated websites designed to call an author out.

Example: I had never even heard of Philip Pullman prior to reading His Dark Materials but it didn't take me long to decipher his pronounced biases within the first few pages of The Golden Compass. Did it bother me that he was on the opposite side of the street as myself in the spectrum of world views? Nope. Did it bother me that his books were atrocious? Definitely. By the same token, Dan Brown holds very similar personal beliefs as Pullman and evangelizes those beliefs in The Da Vinci Code equally as vociferously as Pullman does in His Dark Materials. But I LOVED The Da Vinci Code. Why? Because despite being just as "preachy" as Pullman, Brown did something a little different. He gave me an excellent story that was fast paced, well plotted, thoroughly researched and heavily entertaining. Sure, I didn't accept a word of it as factual. Why would I? It's fiction. But at least he told a good story.

I'm something of a sucker for a good guy. Give me a good story with a decent hero. Give me a protagonist with a penchant for integrity and personal honor mixed with a solid boldness in the face of overwhelming odds and a desire to do the right thing even if it's unpopular; and I could care less about what peyote fueled pipe dreams the dude fixates on in his personal life.

I guess it all comes down to the story for me. I'm secure enough in my own world view and personal belief system not to worry over much about being proselytized by an atheistic missionary with an anti-religion axe to grind. But if you can't give me a story worth a hill of beans or a protagonist I can rally behind, you're not someone who will be enjoying book royalties on my dime.


message 18: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Oops! Sorry Dawn ... guess I did have something to add ... but the popcorn is on it's way as we speak! :) nom nom nom.


message 19: by Maggie (new)

Maggie K | 730 comments Looks like I missed the debate part, but I concur in what seems to be the outcome...We all have a right to our opinions!
In returning to the original post...this is the reason why I love GR. Hearing everyone's opinion of a book I am thinking of reading is important to me. Because of this sight I have learned not only what it is I should be reading, but also what I SHOULDN'T! I beleive that's what these book blog sites should be about, giving readers the information and resources they need to properly make book buying decisions.


message 20: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 350 comments This brought on an important question to me: When do readers reach the point where they know to much about an author? When enough is enough and they realize that the author can no longer be separated from their work?

This is a topic I've discussed in other forums, most notably about Card. I had read all of the Ender books and the spinoffs before finding out about his extreme homophobia. It is curious that Ender's Game is so homoerotic. It makes one wonder if his homophobia is due to erotic impulses towards boys. Maybe even his recent stroke was punishment from his god for being a bigot. (I don't believe that, but you know how these right wing Xtians can be). In any case I have chosen to boycott Card and others like him. If I need to read a book, I get a used copy so the author gets none of my money.

Authors are celebrities and need to understand that their acts may well effect their sales.


message 21: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 3204 comments I just want to add that writers write what they know. They will no doubt be passionate about the things they believe in, so you can bet that it will make it into their fiction. If you don't like what one writer believes in, how they live their lives, etc, and their body of work reflects that, then don't read them. Anything else could lead to book burning, and I am totally against that.

Unless we're talking about Twilight...LOL j/k

On a similar note, I can't read author blogs unless I'm not a big fan or I already know them. There's a certain mystery attached to reading someones fiction for me that I suppose stems from the 1980s, when every writer was nearly famous and rock stars were gods. Reading an author's blog faithfully every day makes me feel as though I'm getting to know them, even if I really don't, and that takes away from that mystery I so love.


message 22: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I can agree with that, Jason. I have never read my favorite author's blog nor do I know if she even has one.

The closest relationship I have ever had with an author was with Piers Anthony. I know, I know - a lot of people hate him and think he has a panty fetish (he does) but he's a nice guy. I wrote to him in middle school as I felt I knew him (he writes rather long author notes and I've read his auto). To my surprise he answered! We corresponded back and forth about until I graduated from high school (by this I mean I received about 3-4 letters from him in a 5-6 year span - which is very good for him). That cemented my feelings for him so I own a good amount of his books - even though I haven't past book 2 of the Incarnations of Immortality series in more years than I can count.


message 23: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) Even though I don't agree with George R.R. Martin's political views that he posts on his blog, I still love his books.


message 24: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Kevin wrote: "Even though I don't agree with George R.R. Martin's political views that he posts on his blog, I still love his books."

That's interesting Kevin. I never would have known what Martin's political leanings were had you not posted above and made my curiosity get the better of me and check it out.

George is either one of those rare writers who avoids bleeding his personal belief system into his writing or one that does it so subtly that it's virtually invisible. Nothing in ASoIaF led me to see George as passionate about his political views as his blog illustrates he obviously is.

I suppose it's possible that, while ASoIaF is extremely political in plot, it remains - at it's core - primarily a voyeuristic foray into the depravity of man when left to his own devices. In that sense, his political views may not end up taking center stage in his writing.

That's still extremely interesting to me. Just like you, Kevin, I find myself on the other side of the political railroad tracks from GRRM while absolutely loving his writing. It is very rare indeed when an author's personal beliefs surprise me after reading his work.


message 25: by Mach (new)

Mach | 572 comments Orson Scott Card is a mormon and against gay marriage, i am not even Christian i have nothing against gay marriage, but still i love his books. As long as he doesn't start preaching in the middle of the story, i will keep on buying his books, because their good.
I don't want to know the authors political or religious views, because that can make me judge a book differently than i would have if i didn't know about their views. Authors should keep their personal views for themselves. How many people will miss out on reading the fantastic Ender's Game because they have read about Orson Scott Card's views ? probably half the people that google his name before they read any of his books.


message 26: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Machavelli wrote: ...i love his books. As long as he doesn't start preaching in the middle of the story, i will keep on buying his books, because their good.

Good point Machavelli. That's similar to my views on musicians. Hey Mike D, if I want political commentary I'll seek out George Stephanopoulos. I came to you to hear Sabotage and No Sleep Till Brooklyn. Play the damn song already. :)


message 27: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Speaking of George R.R. Martin, Tor.com just notified me of a firm release date for A Dance with Dragons. July 12, 2011. What a sweet gift for my 38th birthday!

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/03/set-...


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments Interesting...Clay, if I knew where to send it I'd buy you a beer to go with the popcorn...

This thread really shows differences in taste and also shows that we can read the same book and see totally different things. I still have no idea what G.R.R. Martin's political views are...I've read Ender's game several times I really don't see any "homoeroticism" in it...I really don't like The Da Vinci Code and think the writing, less than stellar (these of course are just my take).

I'd say if you like the book, read it and/or buy it for the book...not because of who the author is. I mean Richard Wagner (Ya, I know "Vagnor" but that's not the correct spelling LOL) was anything but a nice man, but that doesn't detract from his talent.


message 29: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Oh wow! You guys are going to be ecstatic. I'm just hoping that my husband doesn't decide it's a good idea to watch the HBO mini-series A Game of Thrones. I think I've pretty much turned him off of the series, however. He doesn't get down with lots of torture. He's more into superheros. I was SO thankful when The 4400 went off air.


message 30: by Mach (new)

Mach | 572 comments Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "I've read Ender's game several times I really don't see any "homoeroticism" in it..."

There isn't any, there's nothing that happens in the book that would give away his views on gay people or religion, and that's the way it's supposed to be. I just feel sorry for the people that prejudge him before reading his books, they are really missing out on something good.


message 31: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Machavelli wrote: "Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "I've read Ender's game several times I really don't see any "homoeroticism" in it..."

There isn't any, there's nothing that happens in the book that would give away hi..."


I wouldn't say that I'm missing out on that much. I see it more like this: say there's a new resturant that serves the best food ever imagined. Everyone loves it but I know that the owner kills puppies in his spare time. Now I don't care how good the food is, I won't eat there. It's not business, it's personal.


message 32: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Jeez ... now I feel like I need to read Ender's Game. If it's half as amazing as what many of you say it is, it's gotta be one helluva read.


message 33: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I started Alvin the Maker series. Wasn't impressed so I don't feel I've lost anything by not reading Ender's Game.

I really don't care about his not liking homosexuality - what I care about is the hatred that seems to come with it. As a black person, I understand all too well how hatred works. I cannot abide by hatred, period. And that is against any and everyone.


message 34: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) Clay wrote: "Jeez ... now I feel like I need to read Ender's Game. If it's half as amazing as what many of you say it is, it's gotta be one helluva read."

Also read the other side of the same story, Ender's Shadow, just as good as Ender's Game, maybe even better.


message 35: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I own a used copy of Ender's Game. I haven't read it yet though. I have only read one of OSC's books, (Empire) which I thought was good, although I probably would have liked it quite a bit less had I been familiar with OSC's politics prior to reading it. As it was, I thought it was an interesting take on the way things could happen... I kind of saw it as an "alternate reality" type, even though that's probably not what he'd intended it to be. Reading some of the other reviews, I'm quite certain that the politics depicted didn't sit very well with many people.

I don't necessarily mind when an author's opinions make their way into their work, though. Like Nicki says, they are entitled to believe whatever they like, as are we all. What an author writes is always going to be an extension of themselves, so I think it's got to be hard going to find a completely neutral-on-all-counts book. And gah, I wouldn't want to read it if I did find one... Boooooriiiing!

What matters more to me is what the author DOES with that position within their work.

What I find ironic is that the original blog poster mentioned King and Koontz in the same breath regarding their beliefs being apparent in their books. Well yeah. But he could not have mentioned two completely different authors for how those beliefs are presented and used in them.

I've been a King reader since before I hit double digit years. I've never felt like the beliefs or opinions portrayed in his books stood out, or weren't appropriate to the character, or transcended the book to the land of "Think this way, reader. All other ways are wrong!"

We're shown the beliefs through the eyes of a character, and they are included for characterization and background and Americana, if you will. Not to say that he doesn't actually believe them, but it's more like... he doesn't take a stand with issues, and let's the reader decide for themselves. I'm probably not communicating what I mean very well.

For instance, in one of the Dark Tower books, the issue of abortion comes up. A Catholic priest absolutely refuses to even entertain the thought of it, and refuses to help the main characters if they seek one through other means. The main character, a dude who's kind of blunt, says that the priest's Jesus is kind of a son of a bitch about women. Both of these opposite opinions feel completely true and natural for the characters who expressed them. I don't feel like King was making a pro-abortion statement through that scene, but rather that it was just part of the story being told.

Koontz, on the other hand, wields his opinions like a sledgehammer. Some of his books seem like they were published as a soapbox platform just for him to vent his opinion regarding a certain issue. That kind of thing annoys me. I want to be entertained, not preached at.

While I still read Koontz occasionally now, I find it very hard to just enjoy his books. Not simply just for the fact that so many of his plots and characters and storylines are recycled, his "issues" take me too much out of the story. It's hard to keep track of where I am when my eyes keep rolling. :P

Anyway, sorry for the TL;DR post. I just wanted to give my *cough* long-winded take on this.


message 36: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) Becky wrote: ...Some of his books seem like they were published as a soapbox platform just for him to vent his opinion regarding a certain issue. That kind of thing annoys me. I want to be entertained, not preached at.

Don't apologize Becky! The above quoted sentences sum up my feelings precisely - for any author!


message 37: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 3204 comments I don't think there are many writers who, with their work, say, "Believe this and only this!" I think most writers,the ones who do bring their personal beliefs into their fiction, just want to present the idea of their beliefs.

I've only read 2 Card books, Enders Game and the first Alvin Maker, and both didn't really stir my emotions enough to continue reading him. At the time, I had no idea about his beliefs. Looking back, I don't find any anti-homosexual or homo-erotic messages in it. I don't think Card puts those beliefs of his in his work.

I do know that he is a bit of an enviromentalist, and that message does make it into his work, as does his thoughts about the human race as a whole and what people are capable of, both good and bad, and even his Christianity.

In today's politically correct world, however, I think most, if not all, authors are smart enough to keep the hate and discrimination they might feel for any minority out of their work. It makes for bad business. LOL


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments I don't care on the whole how a person "donates" their money. As I said, it's a free country and frankly I certainly don't rate a disagreement with "killing puppies"....

By the way one thing about Card he seems (to me) to run hot and cold. As far as the Ender series the only 2 I really like are Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow...The Empire books? Okay but not great the Alvin Maker books some Okay others not so much...but I like The Lost gate that I'm reading now...and again you know what? His views, political, religious and otherwise had very little to do with the quality of the writing.


message 39: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) I don't think knowing the politics or other views of an author is that bad, even if I don't agree with them. For example both R.A. Salvatore and Terry Goodkind comes to mind. Both of the political views is adapted within their books for example, some people think that he is too political like with Naked Empire, where he expresses he view on the current wars right into part of the plot of the book. Both of those authors uses their own views to become their main characters to express themselves. As R.A. salavtore have expressed before Drizzt is a wat for home to make sense of the world around him. Those for me works if that is what the makes the character and book reason to read.


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) I think you can definitely find out things about figures in the entertainment industry that can ruin your image of them. With writers, I guess I don't let it get to me immensely, unless I find out that they are flagrantly racist or bigoted. If that is the case, I really don't want to support them with my money. I admit there is at least one author I refuse to read because I don't like his rabid, hateful views on a certain subject. Generally, if they have some mildly objectionable views and they don't put those in the books overtly, I guess I can get past it. It's about professionalism. If an author can't be professional enough to write a good story without sermonizing, it's not for me.


message 41: by Jacen (new)

Jacen | 44 comments I guess its a matter of not so much knowing to much about an author but "how" you know, if someone does something privately or holds a personal belief you find objectionable and you found out through digging through blogs and so forth then it says a lot more about you if this revelation changes your view of their work. I think its pretty fair to say EVERYONE has an opinion on something somewhere that I disagree with and don't like, I tend to make a point to look for the things I do agree with rather than what I don't.
This can be hard with an author I admit but as much as it has been said they need to be "professional" I think we as readers need to be as well in judging their work for what it is. A storyteller with opinions is perfectly fine and natural someone with opinions trying to tell a story is a whole other ball game


message 42: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Jacen wrote: "I guess its a matter of not so much knowing to much about an author but "how" you know, if someone does something privately or holds a personal belief you find objectionable and you found out throu..."

I can see what you mean, Jacen. I think that - for me, at least - the reason I would be so quick to stop buying someone due to disagreement is because I don't read/follow author blogs and I don't go looking for author info. If I learn something distasteful about an author it is because the author is behaving so badly that it becomes publicly well known. The author would have to pull a Charlie Sheen for me to know. The only time I visit author sites is to look at their catalog, release dates, and upcoming projects. I skip the blogs and the commentary completely. I just don't want to know.

I do agree if a reader learns distasteful things about an author because the reader turned into an internet stalker - then the reader should get over it (with the exception of puppy killing or other cruel and unusual acts). It’s the same reason two people dating shouldn’t go digging through cell phones or emails: if you dig hard/long enough you will find something to hurt your feelings but you only have yourself to blame.


message 43: by Clay (new)

Clay (cdkorns) And speaking of Charlie Sheen ... I discovered he wrote a now out-of-print book of poetry in 1990.

http://www.amazon.com/Peace-My-Mind-C...

I'll bet it's FANTASTIC!!!

Hey, check the reviews. John Stamos gave it five stars and a glowing review. And as we all know, Stamos never makes mistakes.

*winces as he remembers Rebecca Romijn*


message 44: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments lol!


message 45: by Maggie (new)

Maggie K | 730 comments I do not even know what to say about that...lol


message 46: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Speaking of Charlie Sheen... An interesting take on a recent interview... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1hLdu...

(The original is almost as good... LOL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOxwR3...)


message 47: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 3204 comments Clay wrote: "And speaking of Charlie Sheen ... I discovered he wrote a now out-of-print book of poetry in 1990.

http://www.amazon.com/Peace-My-Mind-C...

I'll bet it's FANTASTIC!!!

Hey,..."


LAMO That's too funny, Clay!


message 48: by mark (new)

mark monday (majestic-plural) | 380 comments this is just a fantastic discussion! wow. i missed the debate but it has been very interesting reading all the comments.

re. Orson Scott Card...well, he makes me rather sad actually. i totally loved the Ender's Game saga (first series) and i still believe it is excellent and based in concepts of humanism that i strongly believe in. that said, as a bi guy, i find it impossible to justify spending money on the Ender sequel series. it really is very frustrating! i wish i didn't even know about card's politics because i'd like to be able to separate author from an author's work.

my favorite comment in this thread has to be Lou's:
"My question though is why would dudes that write stories about dragons and laser beams think I give a fuck about their real world political views, whatever they are."

well said! i also get annoyed when actors decide they are politicians.


message 49: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Mar 04, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments Look, to each his own and all that, but if you/we begin to refuse to buy books by anyone who "may" use their income to support a cause we disagree with we will quickly devolve into a group of people who only read books by people we agree with. It's a vote...my vote is my vote, if you disagree, vote the other way and cancel me out. Mr. Card is a writer and his income is derived from that. If he chooses to support something I don't like, well it's my choice to as to whether I'll buy his books or not. It would take a lot I suppose to get me to permanently walk away from an artist because I disagree with his stance (I've backed off a couple because I disagree with them and they annoyed me to the point of ticking me off, maybe that's where some of you are.)

I gave the example of Forrest Carter, a raciest who also happened to be a good writer. I didn't find out till after I'd read his books (and seen the movie based on them) but had I, I would still probably have bought the book. It doesn't mean I agree or support him. I discovered a few years ago that an executive in a food company supported something I totally disagreed with, and for a while I stopped buying certain brands of food. It suddenly occurred to me how silly I was being. I mean was I really going to change anyone's mind by buying a different brand of catchup or canned chili?

Oh well, as I said it's a decision we all have to make, but it would take a lot for me now I think. I'm more likely to back someone I totally disagree with's right to speak...as (of course) I point out WHY they're Wrong. :)


message 50: by mark (last edited Mar 04, 2011 06:10PM) (new)

mark monday (majestic-plural) | 380 comments honestly mike, i really wish i could feel the same way you do. i am under no illusion that my buying or not buying a book is going to impact anything whatsoever. it really is just a visceral reaction. the man puts money & his name behind anti-gay marriage initiatives, and hey, i may want to be gay-married some day. he can believe what he wants to believe and i'll have no problem with that. people should believe whatever they want to believe, for whatever reason. but when the first thing that pops into my mind regarding OSC is "he publicly attacks gay marriage"...my reaction is just to find another book to buy. it is an emotional response, not an intellectual one. i'm also half-filipino, and if an author had negative things to say about the Philippines, even if they aren't necessarily racist (as card may not necessarily be homophobic)...i would just find myself choosing not to purchase that author either. i can't really explain it in logical terms because it is a visceral, emotional reaction.


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