Welcome To The Bitchery
Welcome To The Bitchery

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every author with a dedicated fanbase is in need of a harsh critic with an agenda. So, it should come as no surprise that John Green is under siege.

The reasons why are surprising.

John Green is being called the Nicolas Sparks of his genre (ummm, what?)

Is being accused of stealing success from female authors, but also of bestowing it.


And is being accused of both establishing YA literature and destroying it.

Green's response has been characteristically intelligent and diplomatic, but my own reaction is significantly more outraged.

Rainbow Rowell's book Eleanor and Park was exceptional, one of the best books I've read in the past few years. Saying that the only reason it became successful is because of the 'John Green' bump sounds like sour grapes from authors upset that their own books didn't receive similar reviews from Green. While his review and the success doesn't smack of patriarchy to me, the criticism does. As Green notes, none of the male authors that he has given similar praise to has had their success 'blamed' on Green.

Comparing Green to Nicolas Sparks also doesn't sit right. The only point of comparison between the two, truly, is that they have written books with heavy romantic sentiments, and have one plot line that follows a main character with cancer. I haven't read Sparks' (and won't, the man can't write) but to say that the purpose of Green's The Fault In Our Stars is to address the effect of cancer on a female protagonist is to miss the mark entirely. This comparison would and could only be made by someone who was basing the entire assessment of these works off of the back cover copy.


The problem that the author should have addressed is the role of sexism in dictating that 'serious' literature is written by men and that writing by women is frivolous, but this is something that isn't Green's fault, and he isn't the best or the only example. Green's fan base is predominantly female, and he treats his fans with respect and courtesy. He writes reviews for and collaborates with female writers, and urges fans to examine and be aware of male privilege in his books and the books of other prominent authors.

So why is Green the target of ire?

Because authors, particularly bad authors, view publishing as a zero sum game. Where one person obtaining a book deal comes at the expense of someone else who could have had a book deal, and where other authors are the enemies. Instead of acknowledging the true enemy of publishing.


The true enemy of publishing are adults in the United States who read on average fewer than three books for pleasure in a year. The true enemy of publishing is the demand for cookie cutter books who fail to push boundaries or examine new areas of conversation: the police procedurals where you could establish the 'who done it' on page 2, and the books so lackluster that they convince readers that one book is as good as another.

Or the authors who let their readers fall to the wayside, instead of encouraging them to continue to find and read new books.


Until people are willing to address the true enemies of publishing, nothing in the publishing industry will ever change. And when people attack the people doing the 'new' thing, as Green has, they end up exposing more of their own prejudice than the author's.

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