Monday, March 30, 2009

Spoiled Milk

If you missed my interview of mystery writer, Rob Walker, on Blog Talk Radio yesterday, it's the first program in the player in the left column here.

Last week, as I swallowed a swig of milk at lunch, I realized it was sour. Since I was almost through eating anyway, I didn't request an exchange. I did go to the cashier, whom I know from eating at that cafeteria quite often, and I did get a refund. Still, the experience left me unsettled and wondering if I'd get sick.

To make an analogy, it's kind of like picking up a book written by a favorite author, starting to read it, then discovering it's not what you expected. In fact, it's so bad, you don't want to finish reading it. That kind of experience can make you swear off of an author for good.

Maybe you've learned more about writing since you began liking that author's work. Maybe that author is careless, riding the tide and pumping out books just for the bucks, not for the craft. There are lots of reasons for being disappointed in books.

What about you? Have you ever been disappointed with favorite authors? Or, maybe just a book that looked good, but turned out crummy? Please share.


  1. I am a huge Clive Barker fan and I will continue to be, but there have been a couple of his novels I just couldn't get into, Coldheart Canyon and Mister B Gone are just not up to the standard he set with books like Weaveworld and Cabal. It hasn't put me off, but with anyone else it would have.

  2. Yes, I have. There's a particular author whose past books I've totally loved, but the most recent ones just didn't have the same oomph. Lo and behold, I just read in an interview that she's taking a break from writing. I'm glad for her, well, sad, but glad because there was something missing in the new books and now I know why. I hope she'll rest and then write another amazing book!

  3. Anonymous8:39 AM

    I read Shogun years ago, by James Clavel. I loved it so much I read his previous book. Tai Pan. It was very good, but not as amazing as Shogun. Then I read his first book, King Rat and was totally disappointed - not very good at all.

    but it DID give me hope that I could be a writer one day cuz I saw how he had developed over the years into a brilliant writer.

  4. When we're writing I believe that we always think we're getting better and better.

    I've been disappointed by some famous writers and I think mainly because too many of them are using others to actually write their books.


  5. I love reading Elinor Lipman but there was one of her books that I couldn't get through - no matter how hard I tried. I didn't like the characters - and her characters usually engage me right away. But your post reminded me I have another book of hers waiting for I'm going to give it a try.

    Can't please all the people all the time, y'know?

  6. I think it's bound to happen on occassion-the author might pick a story line you just can't get into. I usually give them a try again. It's when I'm disappointed more than once that I start to think I won't read them any more.

  7. Yes, and it seems it's always an established author who just gets lazy after so many successful books. (I won't name names though.)

    And thanks for reminding me why I no longer drink milk!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  8. This happened to me with R. Karl Largent. I loved his horror novels but he suddnely swtiched to international espionage novels and I couldn't even get through one of them. Happens a lot with singers I like who suddenly switch styles, too.

  9. It's happened to me more than once. Like others, I won't name names but everybody can have an offday so to speak. I've read some of what I wrote a long time ago and I can see where I have really improved. I still can't get the endings right, but I will someday.

  10. I'm disappointed a lot of the time with what I read. Or, the opposite - my expectations aren't that great, so if it isn't perfect, that's okay. I just take what I can get from it. The disappointments tend to be books that are well-reviewed and that I find lacking.

  11. There are two authors in particular whose style sometimes has me banging my head as I try to read their works. Mitchner and Toni Morrison! Never so much that I dislike their books, but just enough that it sometimes frustrates me as I try to read and have to plow through some parts of their writings at times. I have Toni Morrison's book, "Paradise" which, when Oprah touted it on her show, she also said it was a difficult read. Boy, do I agree there. I've tried now on at least four different occasions to read that book and finish it and understand too what I read and yet, I have yet to succeed on that one. I've come to accept that Mr. Mitchner's books almost always have a long, long part in the beginning of stuff I have to force myself through till I actually then get into the nitty-gritty of his stories, but once I clear that hurdle, he still was one of my favorite authors. Somehow, that doesn't make sense, but for me, that's how it always worked anyway.


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