On V.C. Andrews, Wastelands, and Why I Hate Stephen King

I finished A Moveable Feast, and found it much better than The Sun Also Rises (well, most books are) but not as good as A Farewell to Arms. I keep trying to find a Hemingway as good as the latter book, but nothing has really come close. I’m kind of done with him right now, anyway. I was thinking of reading The Paris Wife, but I will put that off for the time being.

After A Moveable Feast, I moved on to Flowers in the Attic. I read it when I was a child, around 9 or 10, and I loved it – probably because it had sex and curse words in it, and I knew this was something my mother would never have let me read had she known what it was about. I read the entire series at that age, and was absolutely fascinated by this twisted family and their stranger-than-soap-opera lives. As a 28-year-old woman, the story was still captivating and I could see why the story drew me in at that age; the narrator, Catherine, is very relatable as she goes through budding sexual feelings, emotional changes, and the general pre-teen/teenage angst. Of course, it’s framed in the most fucked up story imaginable, but the core of Catherine’s growing up rings true to many young persons’ experiences.

Looking at the story with the knowledge I have now, of how racism/sexism/ableism/etc manifest themselves, I did see that the author has this obsession with beauty and being perfect and white and blonde, and how any imperfection is deemed horrifying and not worth living with. I know that V.C. Andrews suffered a spinal injury and spent most of her life in a wheelchair, so I was trying to think of how she was using the themes in FitA to make some grand statement about disability/racism/sexism, but I couldn’t piece anything together to make it fit any other mold than fucked up beauty standards.

Besides that, the writing was atrocious (I am no Shakespeare, but can pick out crap writing from oceans away) and some of the story seemed to drag on, despite the page-turniness (new word!) of the book. I’m glad I read it again, if only to laugh at what I thought was *ama-zing literature* when I was a wee child.

Now I’m half-way done with Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, which I purchased on my Kindle when I went through my dystopia obsession. Well, I’m not really through that obsession – I imagine I will always be in it. This book is a compilation of (mostly dude) writers and their short stories about the after-effects of the Apocalypse. I bought this based on a recommendation, and am bummed that there has only been one woman author out of the ten stories I’ve read so far. I can’t say I’m surprised, but still frustrating.

Most of the stories have been good, though. My favorite was “When Sysadmins Ruled the World” by Cory Doctorow, which spoke to my computer nerd self and showed us what might happen to the internet if the world went to shit. I also liked “Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels” by George R.R. Martin, which was about the human population living underground for decades after a nuclear attack, and what that did to their biology/psychology. My least favorite was “The End of the Whole Mess” by Stephen King – I even went into that one with an open mind, knowing that I hated every King book I have read thus far. His stories are just so dragged out and his characters are straight-up asshats, and I can never pump myself up enough to give a shit about anything he writes. I want to appreciate his work, and I keep going trying to find something I like, but no – apparently, this is impossible. I do like some of his movies, though, and his concepts are interesting and would make awesome books if he didn’t write them.

After Wastelands, I’ll probably dive into Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which intrigued me with its antique photo cover. Never judge a book by it’s cover? Pffft, I say. I also bought Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin, and you can guess why I picked that one up. Or maybe I’ll just tell you – I’m a big Alice in Wonderland fan. I liked it before it was cool to like it (how hipster of me to say – I apologize), so I’m in heaven with all these Alice-related books popping up.

What have you been reading lately?

2 responses to “On V.C. Andrews, Wastelands, and Why I Hate Stephen King

  1. That’s really funny what you said about Stephen King: “his concepts are interesting and would make awesome books if he didn’t write them.” I feel the same way! I got his “11/22/63″ on my Kindle with great anticipation and immediately didn’t like the main character, because he was, as you so succintly put it, an asshat. And he does go on. It’s funny, though, because his book On Writing” is one of my favorite books about writing.

  2. I had the same childhood experience with Flowers in the Attic – I read them all and the other series she wrote, Heaven. It’s funny, I have been thinking of re-reading Flowers in the Attic again to see what’s it’s like to read as an adult. Apart from the sexy bits of the book, I was really creeped out by the poisoning storyline in Flowers in the Attic, and would try and devise my own ways for them to escape the attic!

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