The internet reminded me the other day that Jim Carrey paints now, which then brought me to Wikipedia so I could remember what he did before he was a famous artiste. Anyway, totally forgot he was in that Fun with Dick and Jane remake of which I also forgot Angie Harmon was in. I was then casually reading Angie Harmon’s page and saw she was in that Woman’s Murder Club TV series ten years ago. And when I clicked on THAT page, I was met with this obtrusive, repulsive statement:
I reacted like any sane person would—I screamed, slammed my laptop shut, then spent the remainder of my evening in the dark, curled up with a glass of Cabernet, mulling over how much I hate James Patterson.
I’ll be up front and admit I have never once read a James Patterson novel in my entire life, and I assure you I never will, but that doesn’t mean the man doesn’t fascinate and disgust me from afar. His bibliography page on Wikipedia belongs on the Dark Web due to its obscene and offensive content—it’s an endless scroll of book titles, none of which I recognize.
Patterson’s first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, only sold about 10,000 copies (which in publishing terms is “not great”). But that was 1976, and now it’s 2017 where a reality star is president and James Patterson is our most celebrated author. Since 2006, roughly one out of seventeen novels purchased in the United States is written by James Patterson. He publishes an unhealthy average of nine novels per year and in the mid-2000s, sold more books in the US than Josh Grisham, Dan Brown, and Stephen King COMBINED.
The funny thing about James Patterson is that James Patterson does not write James Patterson books. He employs ghostwriters, sometimes called “co-authors,” which is just a fancy way of saying “I pay other people to write my books for me.” He’s kind of like a director—he essentially will outline the structure of a story, then the “co-authors” actually author it. He just presents the idea then checks back in to make sure they’re on track, which makes it pretty goddamn ironic that he teaches a masterclass—on writing!!!
Compare Patterson to a real author like Stephen King and it becomes clear how fucked his whole process is. I’m not just writing this because I think Patterson is sucky (I do) or because I’m a fan of King (I am), but if King pumps out a few bad books, we can at least forgive him because he gave us so many good ones. So many.
The JP Army shits out book after book, pops the James Patterson name on it, and then steals all your money. James Patterson is nothing more than a money-hungry, soul sucking, terrible writer who beats his mundane ideas dead into the ground (There are twenty-five books in his Alex Cross series. TWENTY-FIVE!).
Vanity Fair called Patterson the “Henry Ford of Books,” which actually comes off as more of a compliment than he deserves. His books sometimes get published two or three times—first as paperbacks, then as pocket-sized, mass-market paperbacks—and he’s even been known to rewrite them on occasion. Patterson even said to the Times—of his OWN WORK, mind you—:
“Look…if you’re writing ‘Crime and Punishment’ or ‘Remembrance of Things Past,’ then you can sit back and go: “This is it, this is the book. This is high art. I’m the man, you’re not. The end.’ But I’m not the man, and this is not high art.”
It should be absolutely no surprise to anyone that Patterson has an extensive background as an advertising exec at the big-ass ad agency J. Walter Thompson. Those stupid “Aren’t you hungry?” Burger King ads from the eighties were just one of the famous projects he worked on during his tenure there.
At some point, Patterson realized he could mix his Burger King-level marketing skills with his substandard writing and vomit out some trash to read, all while making a pretty penny on it. If you’ve ever seen one of his GODDAMN COMMERCIALS you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
And what about this creepy shit? And I don’t mean the content of the book, I’m talking about the decrepit old man saying words like “sexy” and “mistress” in my face.
There are a few theories as to why people love—and I mean love—James Patterson. One is that his older, female audience enjoys his raciness (see: Mistress) because they no longer get that kind of excitement themselves. Another idea is that maybe literature is dead and we should all come to terms with it.
The aforementioned Times article is chock full of Patterson gems. The following are the two quotes that made me roll my eyes so hard, I self-induced a migraine:
[My books] are light on atmospherics and heavy on action, conveyed by simple, colloquial sentences…I don’t believe in showing off…Showing off can get in the way of a good story.
My favorite books are very dense ones…I love ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude,’ and I’m a big James Joyce fan — well, at least until ‘Finnegans Wake.’ He kind of lost me there.
(Translation: I am bad at writing but I am going to act like it’s a technique. I also like dense books even though my own are filled with trifling nonsense. Oh, and let me just take this moment to shit on James Joyce’s final, and arguably most significant work.)
In conclusion, I hate James Patterson. Good day.