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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

From Stephenie Meyer, to Stephen King, to Nathaniel Hawthorne and Harriet Beecher Stowe

I've been intrigued by Justina Chen Headley's post about Stephenie Meyer's writing. How Stephenie is beloved, an amazing contributor of YA lit, and that she ought not say that she is a storyteller rather than a writer. Yet, how does one withstand the verbal hit by a writing legend such as Stephen King?



With those thoughts popping around in my mind, I was assigning my daughter her reading in the college curriculum American History, a Survey by Alan Brinkley.

http://images.ecampus.com/images/d/0/510/9780072490510.jpg

There's a section concerning sentimental novels. This quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne stopped me:

"and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash."

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/75/Nathaniel_Hawthorne_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15161.jpg

Nathaniel was complaining about middle class, female-generated fiction of the mid-nineteenth century. Here was a selection of work giving voice to female hopes and anxieties. Many were romances, while others dealt with social injustices and urged reform. This was a time in which women were new consumers in the growing industrial economy.

And who was the most famous sentimental novelist of the time? Harriet Beecher Stowe, known for her 1852 antislavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Alan Brinkley calls the work, "one of the most influential books ever published in America."

http://www.iath.virginia.edu/utc/uncletom/illustra/figures/cover22.jpg

When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet, he said, "So you are the little lady that has brought about this great war."

Maybe Nathaniel didn't respect Harriet's work, but it still stands. It spurred national change. Stephen King claimed, "Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn," he said. "She's not very good." Not that different than Nathaniel's sentiments: "America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women."

We women will continue to exercise our voices through the written word and our novel purchases. We will publish alongside amazing male writers. And we will all instigate change in one heart or many.

Here's to Stephenie Meyer who has encouraged literacy across the world with a story we can delight in. Brava!

9 comments:

Little Willow said...

Power to all of the writers, female or male, who are writing - no matter what others say or do, no matter whether they are bestsellers and/or published for the world to read or personal triumphs only shared with a select few.

One person's junk is another person's treasure.

The work is what matters.

I think that with anything, it's most important to do it (to write, to dance, to act, to photograph, to draw, to teach) for a personal purpose and to inspire and assist authors, not for anything superficial or monetary.

Rotem said...

Lorie Ann, I'm not a huge Twilight fan, but I think this is a great post. Novels as a whole were considered trash when they were in their infancy. And I certainly think the link between women's reading and what is considered "trash" in its time reflects on our what (and who) our society continues to value.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

So well said, Little Willow! I agree!

And thank you, Rotem. You lifted my heart with your further observances. :~)

Georgia said...

Thank you Lorie Ann :) I loved this, I will post about it in the TM news blog so that everyone can read it!

xoxo

Melissa said...

Stephenie sucks, finish Midnight Sun and redeem yourself!

Otherwise, great blog!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I want her to finish, too, Melissa. Thanks, Georgia!

notinside said...

I believe that a great novel is a great escape for its reader, and that it leaves the reader different somehow...it becomes part of their psyche. A classic, Sci-fi, YA lit, non-fiction...it makes no difference the genre. I think Lori's point is one of ego, perhaps (unintentional). Stephen King and Nathanial Hawthorne may have let their egos 'eclipse' (pun intended) their better judgement. Thank you Lori, for the comparison.

Kingslady said...

I have always been a huge Stephen King fan. I was very upset with Stephen when I read what he said about Stephenie. As someone who has all his books, I can tell you not all of them are good. Does he forget the time when all the critics bashed everything he wrote? Most of Stephen's books are very good, some great, and always very entertaining. But not one of his books has ever made me feel the way that Stephenie's books do. So if I went to the book store and saw one of his books next to one of hers, which do you think I would pick? The one that makes me FEEL!

Starlore said...

Excellent post Lorie Ann & of course, your points are spot on :)

I'm an aspiring writer & a bookworm, but although I have never been an King fan (despite my love for the horror & scifi genres, seeing many of his movies & owning one of his books), I have always held a great deal of respect for him, if for no reason other than his experience & ability as a writer, in general.

This is an issue of professionalism & I'm really quite appalled. I think, or would hope, that there is a general degree of common respect between writers. How does anyone of his standing in the industry make such rude & inconsiderate statements? He is entitled to his opinion, but to openly bash an upstart writer's ability, for personal reasons/preferences is very unprofessional. He's doing nothing to inspire or even offer constructive feedback. That makes his comment come across w/the validity of an immature "hater".
You'd think he'd have AT LEAST said something along the lines of "well, her style doesn't exactly meet my preferences, but she's found success in her storytelling..."

I guess expecting more from him than just being caught choking on his foot, is asking too much from an adult (that has had his share of ups & downs in the field)of his experience? I find it very difficult to hold any sort of appreciation for him now that he just sounds like a bitter, jealous, successful-woman bashing, old man.

Not the best advertisement for his work. Maybe he should just let his rep' do all the talking from now on.