I'll come up with something in a minute.

We’ve all had one

I have a problem with the Twilight hate that I keep seeing on the internet. My problem might possibly be seen as slightly off topic until I explain it. See, my problem is Jack Higgins. Now, if you don’t know who that is, you’re likely thinking he might be a critic or something, but no, he’s a writer. Specifically he writes spy novels, or what would be spy novels if the ones I read hadn’t been written in the 90s after spies were passé. He also wrote some World War II novels back in the day, but I didn’t read those. What he wrote, that I read, were more anti-terrorism novels. Same thing though, adventure, suspense and gunplay with some good old Boy’s Club mentality thrown in for good measure.

To be specific I read the Sean Dillon books.

Thing is, the books are terrible. Derivative, repetitive, full of out dated ideas and outmoded style. That’s not to say I don’t like them, but they aren’t good books. Between Thunder Point and The President’s Daughter, Higgins essentially wrote the same book 5 times. Only one of those books doesn’t involve scuba diving, only one (possibly two, it’s been a long time) doesn’t involve a situation that was created by the British throwing their weight around sometime in the past, and not a one of them goes by without someone explaining that Krug non-vintage is superior because “it’s the grape mix” at some point.

They tend to clock in at about 350 pages, they don’t go in for deep philosophical conundrums, and they appeal to the wish that sometimes you can solve a problem by just shooting a son of a bitch between the eyes with a Walther PPK equipped with a Carswells silencer. It’s an easy read, you can start one as you get on a plane in LA and if you’re a quick reader, you’ll probably be done by the time you land in New York.

But they’re fun books to read! You know you’re going to have a good time when you read one of these, assuming you enjoy that sort of thing, and that it won’t outstay its welcome. You know it’s bad for you, in the same way that chocolate-covered cakes are bad for you, but if you have it in small doses and don’t make that sort of thing the sole item you consume it’s perfectly fine.

See this is where my problem with a lot of Twilight criticism comes from. I’ve read books that have the same space as those. In my mind Sean Dillon and Edward Sparklepants (can’t be assed to look up anything about Twilight) live in roughly the same place as far as literature goes. Trifles of the literary world, they don’t do any harm.

For the most part, Twilight has been very easy for me to ignore. I’ve never had a Twilight fan enter my space and try to sell me on the books, if anything I’ve heard more from people who want to bash the books. There is this sniffiness that I can’t stand. Guys who have read Chandler and Hammett acting like they’re somehow above these pulpy little time wasters. That’s when they aren’t criticizing the books while loudly and proudly proclaiming they’ve never read the books and never will… which annoys and confounds me. How can you hope to be taken seriously if you’ve never read the thing you’re attacking? Particularly when you’re attacking it on an almost daily basis as some of these guys have been doing.

Now it’s true that just about everyone I know who liked the books and reads more than 5 books in a year liked them for their Camp Value instead of enjoying them on their own terms. Pretty much everyone who has told me the read the books admitted that they were laughing at the book while reading it. Nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with enjoying them straight up either.

Mostly I’m just trying to point out that this sort of thing has worked both ways. I enjoyed a silly, competently written but crudely executed series in the 90s (I stopped reading around 2000 or so) and I still go back once in a while to roll my eyes and take a drink when the phrase “You’re really going to war this time” gets trotted out as it invariably does. The Twilight books are hardly the first ridiculously bad series to get really popular and have movies made out of them. One might point out a series that was so silly it named a character Pussy Galore as a dumb little series of badly written potboilers that took off and were turned into a mega franchise. Yeah, I went there. The Bond books aren’t some holy writ either. They are more inventive than the Dillon books, but they’re still pretty bad in places.

That’s why I don’t like some of the attacks I keep seeing on Twilight. It’s just a bit of pulp and it’ll be forgotten in a few years, leaving a spot for the next big thing. That’s the nature of pulp entertainment though. It goes by pretty quickly and only a few things ever really make a stand. I’ve got mine, the Twilight fans have theirs, and you’ve probably got yours.

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June 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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June 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment