Everyone has favorite writers. There’s something about each of them that resonates in you, even if the writer isn’t particularly popular. It may be because you’re ahead of the curve, or possibly his plots or sense of humor appeal to you more than others. Whatever the reason, we all have authors we like more than others, quality of writing aside.
The flip side of this are the authors we just don’t get. I suspect we all have them, writers who received virtually universal acclaim, but don’t touch our reading G-spot. I’m like that with Ross Macdonald. (I understand this makes me a Philistine.) I’ve read several of his books, and I can appreciate why everyone thinks he’s great, but they just don’t wrap me up the way some other writers do. It’s not the subject matter; Declan Hughes writes of long-buried family secrets and I’m in the tank for him in a major way. It’s not Archer; I like him, even feel sorry for him a little, as he sees, and is affected by, so many situations he can never put right. It’s not the writing. I may be a Philistine, but anyone who says Macdonald isn’t a gifted writer is a moron. Still, his books don’t heat me up like others I could name.
To pick someone alive, there’s George Pelecanos. I recognize what a superb writer he is; he wrote some of my favorite episodes of The Wire, and his web site is full of insights. I’ve seen him speak, and he appears to be a genuinely thoughtful and engaging gentleman. I appreciate the social awareness present in his books. Still, given the choice between a Pelecanos and a Lehane, I’ll take the Lehane, though I’d have a bear of a time explaining why.
No offense to either Macdonald or Pelecanos. I freely and fully acknowledge their talent. It’s not them; it’s me. (And haven’t we all heard that before?) What about you? Who is it you just don’t “get,” and can you say why?