A reader wonders if she really wants to know the dark side of her favorite author (Dickens)
I think about this a lot because I tend to have extremely rigid and weird standards about giving people my money. I’m that girl buying the $4 carton of eggs, you know, the one who makes you roll your eyes and mutter under your breath that I’m a pretentious cock. (I’m not, I’m just neurotic, but that’s another issue.)
When I was a kid, I never wanted to read interviews with my rock star idols—they usually turned out to be obnoxious pricks. Then I got a little older and started liking them FOR being obnoxious pricks (see: Oasis). Which is why this at the end of the article made me happy:
…needing to believe that your favorite author lived in an exemplary way, embodying all the virtues of his best work, is an adolescent desire, passionate but ultimately unfair.
But they were obnoxious on a personal level, like Dickens here. Reading DROOD didn’t bother me, and in that one, Simmons’s Wilkie Collins as narrator is positively scathing about him (which is also another story altogether, but anyhow). I thought it was brilliant.
There is, however, a difference between ideological differences and personal ass-hattery, as the article also points out. While I’m not quite as bothered about the politics and ethics of dead writers, I do have a problem with giving money (read: validation) to living authors who are miserable human beings, who work against issues that are important to me. Like Naipaul and, though he’s not mentioned in this article (god forbid we mention genre fiction, I guess), Orson Scott Card.
Though in their cases, since I’ll remember them being alive even after they’re not, I’ll probably still have a hard time giving their estate money. I’m sure they’ll be devastated to learn of this, of course.