Friday, June 15, 2012

Liking Authors and Liking Books?

A few days ago my BF and I were discussing books, and the topic came up: can you like a book by an author you don't like? We were discussing finding out the political leanings of an author you liked, but who you now disagree with. I said I can for the most part, with a couple of exceptions. And the exceptions are authors who I haven't read (and plan not to), but I find them in the media to be pompous, arrogant jerks (and actually one of them I found to be this way in person more than once, so it's not necessarily media spin that creates that impression.) Actually, I suspect the two authors I don't like for their personality, I would agree with their politics. Unless an author's distasteful politics infuse their books, I don't think it would affect me. (Should I tell you who they are?)

I told him that a friend of mine, E, can't like an author anymore if she finds out what he/she looks like and he/she doesn't look like what E thought they should. It's not even if she finds them physically unattractive - just if they don't match her mental picture. Therefore (as you can imagine) she avoids author events and interviews like the plague. Several of once-favorite authors, she now can't tolerate.

He thinks he wouldn't like an author anymore if he heard them saying stupid things on The Daily Show, and it would color his reading of their books too much for them to be enjoyable. I wonder if everyone who reads Newt Gingrich's civil war novels agrees with his politics? What do you think? Does an author's personal (or political) life affect if you like his/her novels? (Obviously it would matter for nonfiction.) Can you ignore the author as a person and simply like the book?

Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith are the two authors I can't stand personally.


Anonymous said...

I can't stand JF either but I can't stop reading his books. They're so funny. It's an interesting question. Mostly I like authors when I've met them or read about them, so I don't normally have an issue. I can think of one other example that I won't name of an author I've heard speak and didn't like. Her books are great, though, and I still read them, so I guess I can separate pretty well.

Jenny said...

I think it's possible to like the book but I don't know because if I don't like the author I can't bring myself to read their books even if I heard its good. What do you not like about Zadie Smith? I've never read a book of hers but was planning on doing so soon but now I feel weary lol!

Dusty said...

Reminds me of the same question about artists. After reading a biography, it colors how I feel about their art but I can still admire it. Rodin is an example.