Not that she needs me to tell her that.
I'm pretty laid back. There are relatively few things that fan the flames of loathing for me—people throwing garbage or cigarette butts out their car window, bullies, (inexplicably!) Dodge Sprinter vans, and this—when authors go off on other authors and have the balls to say, "Well, I haven't actually read anything they wrote."
Now you've pissed me off.
Author Lynn Shepherd crossed the line with her "Please, I'm not not trying to get attention but really I am" blog at HuffPo, enttitled, "If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It." I link to it for reference, but cringe at the thought it gets another hit—so trust me when I say this—it's been a while since I've read something so self-serving and petty. Essentially, her complaint is that Rowling appears to be a fine children's author but should stay away from the adult market, because the mere mention of her name as the author on a book jacket immediately chokes out any other author trying to scrimp by making a living, and really, she should just leave be.
Using "The Casual Vacancy" as an example, she states the book "sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere. And I chose that analogy quite deliberately, because I think that sort of monopoly can make it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive." Yeah, Ms. Shepherd—you nailed that one. Because no one heard of or bothered to read books like "Gone Girl" or "The Fault in Our Stars" that year.
What's more, she has the beach ball-sized ovaries to throw down while at the same time admitting she's never bothered to read anything Rowling wrote. "I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about," say Shepherd. "I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds."
Please. When it comes to all things literary, for me this is a capital offense. You wanna talk smack about Harry Potter? Man up and READ THE BOOKS FIRST. I have no problem with someone wanting to go toe-to-toe over their place on the mantel of great, mediocre or just really bad literature, but not until you taste the goods. Until then? Any argument you make is going to be invalid. And having read all seven books, in my adulthood—five of them out loud to my kids—I found them not just stimulating, but mesmerizing and wonderful and sad and joyous and just freaking amazing. And I was equally entertained by "The Casual Vacancy" despite the lack of any redeemable character. Also? "The Cuckoo's Calling" had my "I hate to read" 18-year-old sucked in. Thank you, JK.
But really, all Shepherd wants is her name off the same tables her own books appear—because if a JK Rowling book is there, then hers doesn't stand a chance of getting any attention. Really, Ms. Shepherd—is that her fault, or yours? And even if her book wasn't there, my guess is another famous author's would be. In fact, right around the time her next mystery, "The Silkworm," hits the shelves this June, Hillary Clinton and Stephen King are releasing their next works. I suppose they should stay home and enjoy their legions of fans as well?
Ms. Shepherd, pick up a Potter book. You need a little magic.
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Filed under: mumbo jumbo