Thursday, August 17, 2006

Long Time Coming

When I was a kid, I loved Terry Brooks. I was obsessed with the SWORD OF SHANNARA series, and back when I didn't know the difference between hardcover and paperback, I had to buy the new books in hardcover simply because I couldn't wait for the paperback. I usually finished the books the day I bought them and waitied eagerly for the next installment.

After my freshman year in high school, I went to UCLA for a summer to take a film production class (lot of good it did me). That was the same year Stephen King released THE GREEN MILE, a serial novel where each installment was published a few weeks or months apart. I remember waiting in front of the bookstore on Wilshire boulevard before it opened, pacing back and forth desperate for the manager to open the store so I could buy the next chapter, run back to Dykstra Hall, and tear through it.

These days there are a few authors I still feel this way about, who when I hear they have a new book I'm at the store that day (or bugging a colleague for a free copy). Dennis Lehane is one of those authors.

MYSTIC RIVER is among my top five favorite books of all time. I loved the Kenzie/Gennaro series, really enjoyed SHUTTER ISLAND, and have been salivating over his planned Boston epic. He just came out with a new book, CORONADO, a collection of short stories. The book came out last week. And I didn't buy it.

I can't really say why not, perhaps because I don't tend to buy many short story collections, but I wonder if the long layoff between SHUTTER ISLAND and CORONADO has quelled some of that hunger. Made me move on to other authors. Chances are I'll read CORONADO, but either I'll wait for the paperback or borrow someone's copy.

So I'm wondering if this is a common occurance, where an author you were formerly obsessed with suddenly became less of a "Must read." Whether a long layoff between books can actually make you less of a fan, or if, when their next book comes out, you read it with the same vigor you thought you'd lost.

I don't know why I'm apathetic about CORONADO, and whether that apathy will extend to his next novel. Somehow I don't think so, but it was a pretty dark feeling to know one of my favorite authors published a book, and I wasn't waiting in front of a darkened store, dying for the owner to turn the lights on.


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I think it all depends. I'm anxiously awaiting the new Rankin, although it's been two years.

But there is a risk, particularly if more recent offerings haven't lived up to what you enjoyed in the past, and too long of a gap occurs between works. I don't think it's inevitable that it will always happen for everyone, but the possibility is always there.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Dave White said...

It's too bad, because "Until Gwen" and CORNADO, the play, are brilliant... the rest of the book is meh, but...

11:43 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

You could be on to something. I love Brooks too but I've sort of fallen away from buying him for some reason =(

3:50 PM  
Blogger Rob Gregory Browne said...

Short stories. Me, too. They just don't do it for me. Rarely read them, rarely write them.

I do, however, remember a great short story from several years back. I think it was called DEATH IN BANGKOK. By Dan Simmons.

Wonderful story.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Bill Cameron said...

It has been one million years since John Straley's last book, but whenever the next one arrives, I will be there at the book store waiting at daybreak.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Watch 'n Wait said...

For me, it's a matter of changing taste -- what kind of story I want to read rather than who wrote it. Depending on the mood I'm in, I'll search for a book written by an author who writes that kind of story.

When it comes to short stories, I'll read them in a magazine but when I buy a book, I want a long story.

12:13 AM  
Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

I tend to lurk, but I had to comment on this one. I loved Terry Brooks when the Shannara series first debuted. But after a few, it was stale for me.

I am saddened that the publishing industry keeps authors churning out the same story, or not letting them end it. It cannot be a good thing in the long run.

Any book series that runs too long is going to disappoint. There's Burroughs (Tarzan), Brooks (Shannara), Laurel K. Hamilton (Anita Blake), Robert Jordon (Wheel of Time) and many more. I adored all of these series yet I break out in hives at the thought of reading another of 'em!

Of course, it's good for those of us who want to sell our books. :)

10:46 AM  
Blogger Vicki Pettersson said...

How sad is it that I didn't even know DH had a new book out?

Then again, I'm not a fan of shorts, either. But now that I know I'm going to buy it. I love to lose myself in his voice, and he's never disappointed me yet. I just hope I'm not pissed at the abrupt internal silence once each short has ended.

Please, sir, may I have another ... full lenght novel?

9:57 AM  
Blogger Thraesja said...

I used to have a Dean Koontz addiction, couldn't get another book fast enough. Now I occasionally pick one up when I pass through the library. Burned out on him, I guess, although there are a couple of his novels that I've read countless times.
I agree with Writtenwyrdd. I have my favourite series authors, and I wait with painful anticipation for their next books, but after a while I just can't take a never-ending story anymore. I've stopped reading The Wheel of Time, I even gave away the books I did have of the series. And I would add Terry Goodkind's (Sword of Truth) series to the list. Brilliant first few books, but please, tell me how the story ends...

2:24 PM  

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