FOR THE LOVE OF READING

In Vanity Fair this month, there's a great interview with the author James Patterson - or maybe I should say a great feature because as quite often happens in an article like this, if you stripped everything away, Patterson's actual contribution amounts to something like four sentences. 

No matter - there's gold in these hills. I got hooked on JP something like 12 years ago and read a lot of his books one after the other. They're real airport fodder but very enjoyable all the same if that's your frame of mind. Pre-(mass)-internet, you never heard a whisper about him being a bad writer, a media whore or any of the other things that have been levelled at him since the silent majority found a voice for themselves online. You picked up a book, you read it, you liked it/didn't like it - the cycle continues. A good book, you'd give or recommend to a friend, a bad book would be given a word of mouth review and we all got on with our reading lives. 

After a while, I got bored of JP, moved on and never looked back. I don't think I've read one of his books since 2005 and my life is no better or worse for it either way. The neat thing about the story is more in how the world sees him and how he sees himself. We consider him to be an author because a publishing house puts out books with his name on the front - but he sees himself as a mass-media entertainer whose medium of delivery just so happens to be those very same books. He rightly points out that the guys that (for instance) write a long running TV series get handed awards for doing such a thing. JP however, just gets handed crap all the time.

It's a good point. Everybody is so busy talking about books, either wanting to be the reviewer that the world listens to or the critic that is all seeing, that the previously silent majority appears to have forgotten what it means to read a story for its own sake. 

I found myself liking JP a lot more than I thought I would after reading. He knows what he does, he does it a lot and he sells. Rather bringing home the point that surely, the whole essence of reading is nothing more than to enjoy a good story. He puts himself over well. It pretty much boils down to him saying this:

"Respect? Fuck respect."

Which is a good thought to have running around your head if your mission is to sell as many stories as you possibly can. I could get behind that at some level, but I'm too busy trying to unravel the story ball that's rolling around in my own head to figure it out.

Anyway, it's a good piece - and reminded me how I still want to write something for that mag - so if reading is your bag, go pick up Vanity Fair. It's worth a damn - Bradley Cooper is on the cover. 

Sion Smith