What these writers all have in common is that I once cared about each one of them. You don't get on my Worst Five list unless I once had high hopes for you. Each of these five writers seemed to be right up my alley when I first heard of them.
My fateful Cormac McCarthy encounter came on an airplane to California, after I'd excitedly purchased Blood Meridien for a gripping read. I ended up reading the in-flight magazine for six hours, because the writing was better. But I sure thought I'd love that book.
I had very, very high hopes when I first heard of William T. Vollmann, because the subjects he writes about are fascinating to me. I share his interest in the philosophy of history, I like his eclectic craziness, and I bet I'd become a big William Vollmann fan, if the guy would only deign to become readable. I still hope someday he will ... maybe after carpal tunnel syndrome catches up with him.
What I'm trying to say here is -- you can't really hate a writer unless you also love something about them. For example, Joan Didion came up with one of the all-time best book titles ever, the Yeats-inspired Slouching Towards Bethlehem. That's some title. Jonathan Lethem is a Mets fan. Philip Roth is a cranky old weirdo. What's not to like, right?
My week-long rant is now hereby over, and I have to tell you I feel about fifty pounds lighter after getting all of this off my chest. It's a good feeling. So now I'd like to ask you to vent your own opinions. Who are the writers you are really sick of hearing other people rave about? Who left you feeling like a loser for buying his or her crummy book?
This is your chance to let it all out, and I'd really like to hear what you have to say.
This article is part of the Overrated Writers of 2006 series. The previous post in the series is Overrated Writers, Part Four: Cormac McCarthy and Jonathan Lethem.