Thursday, December 03, 2009
A Fan or a Reader
Lester Dent reading.
In a review of Nabokov's THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA in the New York Review of Books, John Lanchester makes the interesting observation that some writers have readers and some have fans. I am not sure I completely understand the difference. The origins of the idea is with Alan Bennett: Evelyn Waugh had readers while Anthony Powell had fans, as did Henry Green. Eliot had readers; James Joyce fans. Gertrude Stein, fans. Edith Wharton, readers. What I think this means is the intensity of attachment to a writer makes you either a reader (admiring, but more distant) of his work or a fan (intensity high-you feel drawn to them).
Now as I am considering this, I realize that the intensity of attraction can fade. I was a huge fan of a number of writers years ago but haven't read their latest works with as much fervor. This would include Robert Parker, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, John Irving, Richard Russo, Russell Banks and Anne Tyler. I have aged but so have they. We just don't like getting into bed together as much. (for reading, of course).
Who are you a fan of as opposed to a reader? What crime fiction writers provoke the most intensity of feeling?