Which is worse?
Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or
Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?
Is there anything as bad as that awful feeling of betrayal that creeps across you when you realize a book by a beloved author is terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad crap? Or the sinking sensation you feel when you begin a book by an author you’ve loved, and it’s not great, and then you realize that the one before that was only slightly better? And then another comes out and it’s even worse, and you have to face the fact that your beloved author has lost it? Or worse, is just phoning it in for the money!
For me, that was the Wheel of Time series, which I initially loved, but slowly deteriorated over the years, each subsequent volume bigger and more convoluted than the last. I skipped reading Knife of Dreams til I came across a copy in our Lost & Found last year, and went the entire time til then without rereading the series at all, something I had done every year since 1996.
Reading a single good book by an author, then discovering that I hate everything else by them isn’t quite as bad, because I can write that one book off as a moment of genius in an otherwise mediocre (or worse) career. Some people only get that spark once, and at least they did. Many of us will never evince genius that will live on like that even once in our lives. And then of course, they have to live with the fact that they can never duplicate or better that one stroke of brilliance. So isn’t such an author to be pitied, really?
I cannot think of an example right off the top of my head, but I’m sure there is one. I do adore The Secret History, but remain undecided on The Little Friend. I may have to reread them both to find out!
And then there’s always the author you once loved, but when you go back to their books, you discover that they’re terrible. And that they always were terrible. And you have nothing to blame for that but your own bad taste and/or inexperience.
That’s how I feel about Piers Anthony. I devoured his books through sixth and ninth grade. A few years later, I read through a few again and hated them, realizing just what puerile messes most of them are. Well, we’re all young once, right?