A Fickle Fan
November 8, 2011
James Lee Burke
Those are just three writers whose works I don't actually read any more. It's not particular reflective of their work. In fact, it's no reflection on their work at all. I just grew out of them.
That's sort of strange, given that I became a writer, inspired by an essay Stephen King wrote. But it's true. The last new book by King I read was "Lisey's Story" which I got as a birthday gift (and hated it). Prior to that "From a Buick 8" that I listened to on audiobook (and hated). It's possible I just got caught in a period where his books didn't work for me and I hung it up. Certainly part of my problem with Pearson is that when he more or less abandoned Lou Boldt I more or less abandoned Ridley Pearson. That happens.
There are writers out there that when their books came out in hardcover, I rushed to the bookstore and bought the very day they were released and devoured them as soon as I could. All of these guys. And I'm sure, if I spend some time, I can come up with others. There are certainly others I can think up that fall into that category.
And there are some others that I still buy ASAP and devour immediately--John Sandford comes immediately to mind. The late Robert B. Parker.
I think James Lee Burke is an interesting case. I became an addict when I discovered him, somewhere around his 4th book Dave Roubicheaux novel. I picked up his backlist, I started buying his books in hardcover. Then I started reviewing novels for The Armchair Detective and for ForeWord Magazine and eventually The Oakland Press. I don't remember which mag I reviewed Burke's newest hero, a Texas Ranger (it wasn't ForeWord, of that I'm sure). And although I thought it was a fine book, something in my subconscious clicked and I haven't read another James Lee Burke novel since. Some emotional response to the book, some possibility that I had gotten too close a glimpse of the inner workings of how Burke approached novel-writing, something... for me the magic was gone.
Mostly it tends to be a slow fade. I read some books by an author, realize I've read 20+ of their books, and they may have peaked 4 books ago. Then I'm not very excited about their next one and I wait till paperback (the e-book phenomenon hasn't quite factored in yet), then somewhere along the way I just shrug. So many books, so little time...
That isn't to suggest I won't, perhaps, on some day, pick up an older book by any of these authors, or that I might decide, "Hmm, this latest one by King sounds interesting..." That happens.
I still have my favorites, but I also find myself reading more by new writers or by writers who I realize have written 20 books and I haven't read any of them, so I pick one up (Daniel Silva, David Ignatius... and I really should read some Graham Greene and John Le Carre...)
I assume this isn't just me. Are there former favorites of yours that you no longer read? Any idea why?