The first time I met Author X was at a Comic Con party. We were introduced through a mutual friend. I didn’t really know much about him but had seen his big fat books at my local bookshop. As we shook hands, I congratulated him on his success and told him I was looking forward to reading his work as I’d heard very good things. I was only some five seconds into addressing him, on the tail end of our handshake, when I realized he wasn’t listening to a word I was saying. Instead, his focus had already shifted to the room at large as he scoped the area for more interesting contacts. I walked off without finishing my sentence. He didn’t seem to notice.
The second time I met Author X was at a bar, again in the company of that mutual friend. We were re-introduced but, so far as he was concerned, it may well have been the first time. Again, I congratulated him on his success. Again, he pretty much looked straight through me and then spent the next hour or so sitting quietly by himself, glowering, while everyone around him chatted away.
My third experience with Author X wasn’t so much a meeting but a story I heard from someone who’d been on the receiving end of his shitty behavior.
I’ve always been someone who has been able to separate the person from their work. I may not agree with an author’s political beliefs, but that has never stopped me from reading them. In fact, I’d say I’ve read terrific books from authors on both ends of the political spectrum – and some equally dreadful books as well. But my experience with Author X changed things. I genuinely still intended to purchase one of his novels, but the second I went to pick it up off the shelf, I experienced a sense of revulsion so deep that I actually had to go walk off my anger. It was a purely Pavlovian response. The fact that he was an asshole didn’t make him any better or worse a writer. And, even though I knew it, I nevertheless couldn’t separate my feelings for the author and my distaste at the mere thought of rewarding him with the sale. So I went home and watched old episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm instead.
So, my question to you:
Are you able to separate the artist from the art?
Does it depend on the circumstances? If so, where do you draw the line?
On the flip side, here are a couple of artists worthy of your support: