I met Joanna on a writing holiday recently and she happened to mention how much she hated this particular novelist. I loved them and so did everyone else, but she thought they were awful. It became a kind of joke between us.
I like Joanna, and I like her writing. This makes me interested in her opinion of other writers. But I disagreed, and it’s fine to disagree.
This week I read another book by this person. Half-way through I was saying, oh, Joanna is wrong – this is a great writer! I definitely like their books!
Two thirds of the way through, certain things were starting to annoy me. I noticed a kind of reptition that I’d never noticed before, and something that felt a bit fake. The ending was TERRIBLE. I don’t think I’ll ever read another novel by them again.
Hate is a funny thing. Would I have felt the same way if I didn’t know what Joanna thought? It seemed like I was bugged by the very same things I’d previously liked about this writer’s books – the idea of weaknesses being ‘overplayed strengths’.
It reminded me again that you can never keep all the people happy all of the time, and that you shouldn’t even start trying. But it also reminded me how suggestible we are – and how easily (and with what pleasure) we can gang up on each other.