Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stephen King vs. Stephanie Meyer

So, yesterday, there was a slightly 'big' controversy in the writing world. I say 'big' because depending on how much you care about either author involved, it may have slipped by unnoticed. However, if you're like me and you like to read, there's very little chance you haven't heard of either Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer.

Now, for those of you new to my blog, it's no secret that I dislike the writings of Stephanie Meyer immensely. Ok, so dislike might not be a strong enough word based on what I've written in the past. I think it's pretty obvious that I think the Twilight books are badly written rip-offs of much better author's works. I've been nice in giving Meyer respect for at least getting young people to read. Although now I might have to amend even that nicety a little because, frankly, the obsessee's of Twilight aren't exactly going out to the library or Borders and looking for other books. They're just rereading all of Meyers' books over and over again. There comes a point where that stops being reading and just starts being scary.

In case you haven't heard of Stephanie Meyer, the Twilight series is a four-part series of novels about a perfect boy who turns out to be a vampire and a very normal girl who inexplicably becomes the desire of the vampire. The series encompasses themes such as being so in love, you're willing to kill yourself because your love left you. Also, a theme that love conquers all, especially life because Bella, the heroine, spends three and a half books pining for Edward, our hero, to kill her so she can join him in eternity. She's seventeen. She has a loving family. Yet she still wants to turn herself into a bloodsucking beauty just so she can stay with Edward. Then she eventually marries the vampire, has his baby in an extremely gruesome manner and gets turned into a vampire because it was the only way to save her life. Oh, also, Bella's best friend (who started out as a werewolf but then became a Shapeshifter because Meyer couldn't make up her mind) is in love with Bella so there's a love triangle going on. Except when Bella and Edward's baby is born, the terribly-named Renesme, Jacob falls in love with baby because that's what shapeshifters/werewolves do- they imprint on a person, no matter how old, and mate for life.

Ok, so that might be a teensy bit editorialized but, I promise, the plotlines in the paragraph above are all true. Every last one of them.

Anyway, so that's a little about Ms. Meyer. Now, about Stephen King. Yesterday, a quote was published from him regarding Stephanie Meyer for an interview he did with USA Today:

"The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn," he said. "She's not very good."

Naturally, Meyer fans are in an uproar. The mud is flying, people are accusing Stephen King of being the pot to Meyers' kettle, i.e he can't write either.

I beg to differ. Ok, so Stephen King's books of late haven't been particularly gripping. Ok, so he said he was going to retire a couple of times but...hasn't. And yes, his earlier books were WAY better than his later ones (which may or may not have been linked to his alcohol/substance abuse problems from back in the day.) I'm not saying that he was a better writer when he was drunk or high but....well....those books were better. However, Stephen King has some amazing credits to his name. He can also write and he can write well.

Personally, I can't even fathom how people can even dare say that King can't write any better than Meyer. To say so is almost a crime. Whether you like horror or fantasy or not, doesn't mean that Stephen King can't spin an amazing tale. When he wants to, King's writing can be beautiful and poetic. His characters are three dimensional and compelling. He can make you laugh with a simple phrase such as "he stared at him as though he'd just suggested he use the Arc of the Covenant as a pay toilet". That may be slightly misquoted but it's one of my all time favourite literary quotes. I think it might be from It but I actually don't know. All I know is that it stuck with me.

I'm not saying that Stephen King is perfect. After all, my mother, who used to read his books and enjoy them can no longer read his works because he was arrogant enough to write himself into the last of his Dark Tower series. I admit, this was a gutsy move. I actually didn't mind that at all, I had more of an issue with the syrupy, sugary ending he gave his Susannah character. With that, he let me down, proving that even the toughest, most brutal writers can give in to sentiment. Stephen King: if you're going to kill two of my favourite characters from the Dark Tower books, do not DARE to try to bring them back for a happy ending. I mourned them both and was ok with that. Bringing them back was cheating and it should never have happened.

Yet if you look at Stephen King's record vs. Stephanie Meyer, I don't think anyone can question the fact that King is the much better of the two authors. For one thing, have you looked at his sales figures? Secondly, have you read his books? My favourite is still Black House which was a joint effort with Peter Straub but, as a King fan, I can see his writing and his influence on the book and it's brilliant. The Waste Lands, the third of the Dark Tower series, is one of the best fantasy books ever written, in my opinion.

Yet it's not a question of who's the better writer. That's obvious. Also, I think King was absolutely right to declare J.K. Rowling a far superior writer to Meyer because she is. I am sick to death of the Twilight vs. Harry Potter debate. It's like comparing Star Wars to Starship Troopers. They might both be entertaining but one is a cinematic classic...the other is a piece of crap that might entertain but at the end of the day, has giant bugs and some terrible acting.

I suppose I'm just happy that, once again, Stephen King has seconded an opinion I've had for a while. He did that with Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, calling it a piece of "dreck". I'd been calling it that for ages. It's nice to have someone who usually writes rather well not afraid to say what he thinks instead of patting Stephanie Meyer on the head and saying "good girl" instead of saying "you're a bad writer who ripped off Anne Rice."

And, as a writer, it's also nice to feel validated. I used to wonder how Stephanie Meyer got past the rejection letters since her writing is so....mediocre. Then I found out a friend of her's was a writer and hooked her up with an agent. Some of us aren't that lucky. We keep writing and our writing improves but we have no published friends.

Yet at least there are published authors like Stephen King to stand up for good writing until we can get our start. And, for that, I say thank you, Mr. King. I'll even consider reading some of your newer books again.

Happy Thursday.

1 comment:

frozenchickensmoke said...

Truthfully, I agree with you. I read the Twilight series, BEFORE the craze, and it was . . . okay. Meyer is good at one thing and one thing only, and that is intensifying the emotions of any one given moment and rambling about them to any fan-girl's content. I have read King as well, and though he is not my favorite author, he balances emotion and simple statement of fact very well, and for that I consider him the greater author.