Goodbye, James Patterson

No he didn’t die.

It’s just that I’ve decided not to read his books anymore.

James Patterson is a former chairman of the advertising company J Walter Thompson. In the early 1990s, Patterson came up with the slogan “Toys R Us.” Shortly after his success with Along Came a Spider, he retired from the firm and devoted his time to being a writer.

This very very prolific writer – some 60 books written so far, most of which I have read – usually co-authors his book with other writers (or should I say advertising copywriters?)  I have a love-hate relationship with him, I love his books but each time I go through one I feel rather cheated and swear I’ll never touch another of his books again, then I’ll go on to buy the next one. Reading Patterson is like binging on potato chips – easy to eat, hard to stop, no nutritional value whatsoever, but it is so addictive and it feels so good. You swear off it, and then you get sucked into the whole cycle again.

Horror novelist Stephen King has dismissed Patterson’s bibliography as being made up of “dopey thrillers,” and in one interview called him a “terrible writer.” Patterson responded dismissively, simply stating that “I just want to be the thrillingest thriller writer around.”

He has certainly succeeded.

In 2007, one of every fifteen hardcover novels sold was a James Patterson title – totaling an estimated 16 million books sold in North America alone. According to Forbes, Patterson earned US$50 million from June 2007 to June 2008, placing him second on the list of best paid authors in the world. In total, Patterson’s books have sold an estimated 150 million copies worldwide.

Patterson has also been heavily criticized by Patrick Anderson, a reviewer of thriller novels for The Washington Post. Anderson once called him “the absolute pits, the lowest common denominator of cynical, scuzzy, assembly-line writing”, and branded his second Alex Cross novel, Kiss the Girls, “sick, sexist, sadistic and sub-literate.”

I looked at my book-filled house, and book-filled bedroom, bursting at the seams with yet-to-read books, books with more than just entertaining, but true literary value, and I calculated the time I have left on this earth and I’ve decided to be strict with myself – this is it, as of now, I am swearing off James Patterson’s books.

Hope I won’t suffer withdrawal symptoms.

This entry was posted in The Reader. Bookmark the permalink.