I found this little quiz, "An artist or a hack?" quite annoying. Check out these instructions:
Some of the quotes below are from one of the greatest writers ever. The other are from one commercial writer, who achived [sic] popularity among uneducated people, but failed to make a contribution to Literature. Can you tell the difference between their prose?
Since the bias of the individual who wrote the quiz was patently obvious from the language of his instructions, I didn't actually play the manipulative little game. But I was curious enough to click over and take a look at the answers.
Who, according to the author of this quiz, was "one of the greatest writers ever"? James Joyce. (I beg to differ, but that's another post.) And who was the "commercial writer who achived [sic] popularity among uneducated people, but failed to make a contribution to Literature"?
No, I'm not kidding.
I don't care for horror novels, but I once read two Stephen King novels on a dare--skimmed them, mostly, because I really don't enjoy those kinds of stories. But I came away convinced that King has a rare gift for storytelling and a wonderful way with the English language. No, I didn't like the books, but I couldn't help but admire the writing. And isn't that quite a compliment?
By the way, all six of the James Joyce excerpts in the quiz were taken from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The six Stephen excerpts came from Jerusalem's Lot, Suffer the Little Children, Pet Sematary, and the introduction to Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
I own copies of James Joyce's Ulysses and Dubliners, but I've never been able to get into either of the books. When I read the Stephen King novels, I didn't like the scary stuff and the gore, but I was pulled into the stories against my will--which is more than I can say for the Joyce books.
If you hear anyone disparage King's writing talent or craftmanship, you send them to me. I don't like his genre or his books, but I believe King is an extraordinary writer. Surely the reluctant admiration of people like me says something about the quality of his work. He is no hack.