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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Into the Fray! . . . Sort of

     Well, I'm a little late to the party, only hearing about this particular news item from a friend last week, which is why I spent a few days looking into it, then mulling it over to come to a conclusion. The issue was a comment Stephen King made about Stephenie Meyer's writing. First, I'm not tackling that issue. I don't know King's or Meyer's writing to make any kind of comment. Much of it is up to personal preference, as well. In my book, Hemingway cannot write. His prose is too simplistic and subject matter very boring for me. Nathaniel Hawthorne should be denigrated instead of praised in my opinion, but I know there are people that love both of them. I have no problem with that. Likewise, I have no problem with people loving both Meyer and King. However, there's something else that disturbs me, and I simply can't remain quiet on it any longer.
     There seems to be a common thread in the comments of many, if not the majority, of Meyer's supporters, and that is quite a few of them write and read at the level of her novels. I've perused the comments here and here and cringe at the poor grammar, style, and rationale within them. That's not to say that there aren't quite a few who express themselves adequately and rationally, but those aren't as numerous. I see many laden with texting conventions that do not belong in any kind of written argument, and I long to send Mr. Period (NSFW language) in to attempt the problem, but think Cap might lose his temper. Many of the commenters do not even address the topic at hand and simply write what they like most about Meyer's books. Others simply spew hate towards King in language more reminiscent of an elementary school yard than by young (and not so young) adults. Furthermore---I'm not sure if this is more disturbing or not---whole legions have no idea who Stephen King is, and do not bother to take the two minutes necessary to use the Internet to find out even basic facts about him, such as the books he's authored, the ranking of those books in best-seller charts, the movie adaptations from those books, and the man's estimated wealth. The level of ignorance given off by Meyer's supporters is palpable, and it frightens me.
     I'm frightened because I believe that many of them will never go on to realize that there is much more and better literature out there. I'm not talking about King, either. I've never read his works. I'm talking about the likes of Shakespeare, Milton, Twain, Homer, Dickens, and a host of others it would take me far too long to list. I do not begrudge Meyer at all. I think it's wonderful that she has written, published, and become popular, yet I think that the true worth of books is that they inspire us to move on and read more, yet the sense I get from many of these supporters is that they will never move beyond Meyer's young adult books to the incredible universe of stories out there. They will never see the majesty of two star-crossed lovers so reminiscent of Twilight in Romeo and Juliet---by the by, I believe that R&J (as Will let's me call it) is one of the Bard's more mediocre works. For my money, go with A Midsummer Night's Dream, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and King Lear.
     I suppose here at the end I just want to appeal to those who do read and adore Meyer's works to move beyond your beloved series and discover what else is out there. The world of literature is so much richer than one author and one series that it should be explored. I applaud anyone who reads voraciously, but don't close the door off to other books. If you enjoyed Twilight, consider Romeo and Julie, or perhaps even Bram Stoker's Dracula. Look at the stories you've read and loved and look for more of them. You may just find that other works speak more truly than what you've read before.
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