Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Junkie Problems: Outgrowing Authors

In just two days the world will be re-introduced to America's favorite incestuous horror story Flowers in the Attic. Published in 1979 this first in Andrews's Dollanganger series likely made a stir I can't even imagine. Even today the plot is cringeworthy and skin crawling. Now, Lifetime is reviving the series with another movie adaptation (premiering Jan 18) starring Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn. And of course this isn't even the first time the story has been adapted. Kristy Swanson and creepy Louise Fletcher starred in the 1987 version.

Readers, I discovered V.C. Andrews when I was about twelve. I devoured her books. I think the blame can be placed on one of my best friend's grandmothers, the same person tangentially responsible for introducing me to Dean Koontz as well. But readers, even I never could get through Flowers in the Attic, instead opting for the slightly less icky Casteel series, which began with Heaven, a few later titles, and my favorite of Andrews's books, My Sweet Audrina.

I abandoned these just a short time later having completed none of the series available at the time. Readers familiar with these will remember that four of the books in the series generally traced the family through numerous generations with a fifth serving as a prequel; I probably read about four books in the Casteel another four in the Cutler series and finished with just the first in the Landry series before moving on to new things.

By the time I was in college I did revisit Andrews and attempt Flowers in the Attic but I found that whatever drew me to the books in my younger years (likely a weird voyeuristic fascination combined with the knowledge that my parents would literally shit bricks if they knew I was reading them) just wasn't there in my blooming adulthood.

And while I've focused on Andrews in particular here, she's not the only author I find I've outgrown from that period in my reading life. Koontz has fallen by the wayside for me as well, though for different reasons. Andrews only ever completed a handful of the books attributed to her name. Books beyond that follow a very simple formula, which means you basically get the same story with new characters. Koontz on the other hand developed a particular style that I just didn't enjoy beginning right around the time By the Light of the Moon was released. His next few were hit or miss for me and eventually I gave up. I have to say, though, his books prior to that remain some of my favorites.

Another abandoned author I discovered around the same time was John Saul. Again his work in the 70s, 80s, and 90s still holds a place in my heart but his new stuff doesn't have the same magic for me. And frankly, I'm a bit afraid of going back to the works I enjoyed by these authors and discovering that they possibly no longer grab me either. I'd rather remember them fondly.

There are others I adored in the past and have moved away from. I think it's typical of any reader. In some cases it's discovering that you've become a more versatile reader and these old favorites have become formulaic. In other cases it's simply the fact that these books aren't that good or your tastes as a reader have changed. But am I alone in feeling a little bit of remorse about no longer being able to include these old favorites amongst my current reading passions?

If you're curious about V.C. Andrews and her legacy as a whole, check out this article from Buzzfeed.

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