Get ready to get your panties in a twist, girls: I’m about to share why I hate, loathe, and otherwise despise one of the most beloved writers of our day. Usually I let people squeal about these romances with my mouth shut, for fear of raining on their parade (even though rain would probably only make their parade more swoon-worthy, right?). But now I’m invoking the whole “my blog, my rules,” and telling you how I really feel. So fangirls beware, because haters gonna hate today!
Who is Nicholas Sparks? He’s a 47-year-old author from Nebraska, a devout Catholic with five kids. In 1996, his first novel The Notebook was published after a stroke of good luck when an agent fished it out of the slush pile. It became a huge success, and his current bibliography of 17 novels and 10 film adaptations have built him an estimated net worth of $30 million.
But you know what? Good for him for making a fortune with his writing. It’s every book blogger’s dream, and I’m not going to hate him just for being rich.
I’m going to hate him because he’s an egotistical, arrogant jerk.
I’ll bet money that no Nicholas Sparks fan has read his 2010 interview for USA Today, because I don’t know how anyone can come away from it still believing he’s a great guy.
How do I hate thee, Nicholas Sparks? Let me count your pompous, deluded ways:
“I don’t write romance novels […] Love stories — it’s a very different genre. I would be rejected if I submitted any of my novels as romance novels.”
Oh, really? You know what this is? Sexist BS. God forbid he ever gets lumped in with all those female romance novelists, who are writing exactly the same kinds of stories as him. A novel about romance is a romance novel, and a crappy book filed under any other genre is still a crappy book.
“There’s a difference between drama and melodrama; evoking genuine emotion, or manipulating emotion. It’s a very fine eye-of-the-needle to thread. And it’s very rare that it works. That’s why I tend to dominate this particular genre. There is this fine line. And I do not verge into melodrama. It’s all drama. I try to generate authentic emotional power.”
Again, Sparks, you’re splitting hairs. Own up to the fact that you make people cry by invoking the tear-jerking subjects of cancer and military deployment. Whether you evoke or manipulate emotions, who cares? You make your readers feel what you want them to feel.
He spends the entire interview trying to convince the journalist that he’s a special snowflake. He compares himself to the Greek tragedians, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Ernest Hemingway all in one breath. As the interview takes place in a bookstore, here’s what he says when he picks up A Farewell to Arms:
“A Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway. Good stuff. That’s what I write,” he says, putting it back. “That’s what I write.”
You know what Hemingway hated the most? Fake people. How I wish he could come back from the dead and slap your self-absorbed face.
Sparks’ favorite tale of youth? “I think A Walk to Remember,” he says, citing his own novel. “That’s my version of a coming-of-age.” He pauses and adds: “You have to say To Kill a Mockingbird is an all-time classic.”
Oh, sure. Citing your own novel as your favorite–then adding one of the most influential masterpieces in modern literature as simply an after-thought–is a prime example of humility.
“There are no authors in my genre. No one is doing what I do.”
Ok, that’s it Sparks. STFU. I can’t take it anymore! How can your head even fit through doors when it’s that big?
Luckily, there are some sane people who call Sparks out. Roger Ebert declared his novels “soft porn for teenage girls,” and plenty of other book bloggers have shared their loathing. Cracked has a hilarious critique of the author, a part of which I’ve shared below:
Now here comes my disclaimer: I have never actually read a Nicholas Sparks novel. I have seen the movies, “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook,” which I enjoyed because I was drinking the Kool-Aid like every other teen girl, but now? I refuse to give one cent to this yahoo.
And I really stick to my guns. I don’t care how hot Zac Efron’s washboard abs look, I turned down all of my friends’ invitations to the theater. There are plenty of other formulaic, sappy love stories that I can experience which were written by people who aren’t complete sleazeballs.
So yes, feel free to judge me for judging a writer without reading his writing. I completely understand the argument, and I admit that it’s not entirely fair. But after seeing his personality, why in the world would I start reading his stuff now???
Sometimes you don’t need to experience something to confirm it’s bad–like heroin. I wouldn’t shoot up to see what all the fuss is about, and I don’t need to waste money on someone who clearly doesn’t deserve it.
In fact, as much as I’d love to hear how much you hate Nicholas Sparks too, if he’s your literary homeboy, speak up! That’s what book blogging is all about! Trust me, I did debate in high school, so I’m all for some lively discussion!
So give it to me, readers: Nicholas Sparks–love or hate?