Sunday, July 22, 2007

"The Quickie" and the dead

Right up front: I haven't read “The Quickie,” the latest book with James Patterson's name on it. The title seems apt enough, but I was wondering: Why use it now, instead of a dozen books ago? Patterson's hirelings have been turning out volumes of this description for at least a decade. Next up: “The Phoning It In.”

Of course I'm not suggesting that such a book atop New York Times bestseller list represents the death of American culture – let's not forget “The Love Machine” in 1969, or “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” in 1972, or “Oliver's Story” in 1977 – but it's not something that gives me great comfort either. Shouldn't writers, even very wealthy ones, be required to actually write the books they're selling? Paying someone else to do it is like paying a pauper to do your military service in the Civil War.


Rant off. Yes, I call myself a writer and no, I can't afford to hire someone to do it for me. Pass those sour grapes over here, please.


2 comments:

Peter said...

You have a charmingly archaic sense of honor. Patterson's not the only writer to do that sort of thing. I think Tom Clancy has similarly ceased being a writer and made himself into a brand instead.

Any time anyone defends this sort of thing, a two-word reply is sufficient: "Donald Westlake." Or "Stuart (M.) Kaminsky." Or even "Georges Simenon" or "Stephen King," for that matter. Those authors were and are prolific, and they actually wrote the books that bear their names.
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Dave Knadler said...

I read a couple of Tom Clancy's early books, and I read one James Patterson, written (I think) before he started farming out the work. It wasn't good. Maybe the hirelings actually do better work. But I have no interest in finding out.