I didn’t see the approaching storm when I wrote a recent Read Street post about Stephen King’s critique of Stephenie Meyer, author of the immensely popular Twilight series. King said in an interview with USA Weekend: "[J.K.] Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good." (He also skewered James Patterson, ran hot and cold on Dean Koontz and praised Jodi Picoult, but no one seemed to notice.)
Nancy warned me that posting his comments would unleash a torrent of fury from fans of Meyer's teenage vampire saga. I ignored her advice and, as usual, regretted it. More than 150 people responded to that post, and many called King an idiot — and worse. Those comments were offset by others calling Meyer and her fans idiots — and worse. So while the Baltimore area basked in unusually warm weather, much of my time was spent censoring the rudest language and deleting profanity-laden comments.
You'd have to read the uncensored versions to understand the vitriol aimed at the two authors — the comments make Obama- and Bush-bashing seem tepid. But here's a shorthand version of the King/Meyer Comment Spectrum: King is coasting on his early fame and is jealous of her success; King is rude to criticize another writer; King is a great writer. Meyer is a thesaurus-abusing hack; Meyer shouldn't be allowed to make vampires sparkle; Meyer may not be the greatest writer, but she creates compelling stories; Meyer is a great writer and storyteller.
The truth, as the cliche goes, lies somewhere in between. For all the criticism about Meyer's writing — and I don't begrudge King the right to give his opinion — there's no denying her power as a storyteller. Meanwhile, she has made millions of teens into readers, and that's to her credit (even if many of their comments reflect an unfamiliarity with conventions of spelling and grammar).
Hey, when I was a kid, I survived on Whoppers, Superman comics and bubble-gum music. I wasn't going to change by being offered steak au poivre, Shakespeare and Brahms. Eventually, though, I moved on.
So, I say to the Meyer-haters: Lighten up. And consider these words of Kurt Vonnegut, supplied by commenter Robin: Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.