Worst of 2011: Really?
Today I saw that a book was listed on a major magazines 2011 "Worst Books of the Year" list that simply did not deserve to be there. It was by no means a "best" for the year, but I happened to read the book and can tell you that it in no way should ever be lumped in with books by a Kardashian or Snooki.
I have some theories on why it appeared there. Part of it may have been that it was not popular with the authors fans. This reason actually has nothing to do with the writing because most of the complaints I heard about the book were simply plot related twists that fans didn't want to happen (since when do fans get to dictate the content of the books they read? That's ridiculous to me).
Another reason (and the more likely for this list) was probably simply because the author of the book has seen a lot of success as of late. There are those who can't seem to stand it when something that's just "good" is more successful than things that are "great." I've already ranted about this a little bit in my post about Elitism in Literature, but I just feel really sorry for the author. I probably shouldn't since I don't know them personally, but it seems humiliating to have your life's work degraded like that.
I firmly believe that a good critic should be able to see a work for what it is, see where it fits into the grand scheme of art, and give a fair take on it. That doesn't mean praising things that are popular if they aren't good, but it also means you cannot let your own prejudices cloud your judgement. The trend as of late seems to be that a lot of really terrible writing is overlooked because it's not getting any hype, and a lot of decent writers are getting accused of being awful simply because they are finding success in the form of franchising, movie deals, and book tours. <---These things aren't inherently evil.
Maybe you're a purist and think authors should be anti-social hermits that care more about the integrity of their book than a movie deal...but I just don't think it's fair to throw a "worst" label on a professional writer that has been contributing to art for years without any complaints.