I’ve spent the last month reading The Dark Tower, Stephen King’s enormous fantasy series. It spans seven canon novels, plus a further ‘missing’ novel, as well as incorporating almost all of his previous works in one way or another. It makes for some really fun, but quite intense reading and it got me thinking about how much of one author you can really take.
When I was at university, I discovered Haruki Murakami after getting hold of Kakfa on the Shore. I loved it, and he had to be one of the best writers’ I’d discovered in years. I quickly ploughed through Norweigan Wood, which I liked a lot, and then Dance Dance Dance, which I wasn’t a fan of, and then After Dark, which I really didn’t care for, and by the time I got to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, and it opened with a man cooking spaghetti, listening to jazz music and talking to a hooker and a cat, I knew I had read too much of him. No longer were any of his quirks and tricks seemingly off-the-cuff. Everything seemed far too formulaic. Of course, perhaps it’s easy to get this way with Murakami, even The Toast managed to get a dig at him.
But it still has made me think a little about how much of one author you can take before you start to see the tricks and tropes.
I began to feel that same way with King. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, is the fifth novel by him that I’ve read this year (and the sixth book, counting Four Past Midnight) and by the end, despite enjoying it, the cracks were beginning to show.
I’m taking a break from him at the moment, part due to this fatigue, and part due to the pile of review copies that are creeping up on me, but it struck me that perhaps it was also the right thing to do.
Authors do not expect their books to be read in quick succession. Most authors take their time between books, even when they’re writing a series. You only have to look at A Song of Ice and Fire to see just how long these books can take. King is the same by the way, often take a few years off inbetween Dark Tower books, and it made me realise that these were not designed to be read back to back. It certainly shows in the writing. Is reading them in a row betraying the author?
I think then, that maybe it’s healthy to have a break between authors, no matter how much you love them. There’s definitely a pull when you first discover a new author to go out and buy everything they’ve written and devour it, but that can definitely be too much of a good thing and like me with Murakami, it can put you off all of the rest of their work for a long, long time.
Maybe I’m wrong. I’d love to know what you think. Have you read too much of an author? Or are there writers whose entire works you’ve read in a row, and still love? Let me know in the comments!