Art Attack loves to curl up with a good book. Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, maybe Sabine Baring-Gould's tome on werewolves, whatever's around, really. The last time we moved, we did a little inventory and found that a full quarter of all the boxes that we had moved were filled with some kind of book. That's not even counting the DVDs... most of which are film versions of books.
The thing about books, though, is that you tend to identify more with the story than with its author. After all, when's the last time you saw an author on E!? Hell, even people like Stephen King and Dan Brown don't really make entertainment news. It's not that they aren't famous, it's just that they're not being shoved down our throats by a media machine and so we know them only by their art.
That being said, there are some truly brilliant authors who have such deep moral lapses that if we'd known about them before, we probably never would've read any of their works no matter how brilliant. That was the key to putting together this list. The author must have turned out at least one work that was amazing, and they must have done something that you'd punch a stranger in the mouth for doing in front of you. Let's get started.
4. Ayn Rand
Why You Should Read Her: We literally read Atlas Shrugged four times back to back, and then immediately jumped into The Fountainhead. Rand challenges all conventional fiction with her superhuman characters and mind-bending philosophy. Her novels are examples of what man can be when he exerts his full mental power and has utter faith in himself.
Why She Was a Douchebag: Lots of people hate Rand for her political philosophies, and rest assured we don't agree with her world view in the slightest. But hey, communists say the same sort of thing about capitalists and vice versa, liberals say them against conservatives who say them right back. We're not giving her a hard time over that.
We're giving her a hard time over this statement: "A wonderful, free, light consciousness" born of the utter absence of any understanding of "the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people." She said that about William Hickman. Who was William Hickman?
In 1927 Hickman kidnapped 12-year-old Marian Parker and held her for ransom. When her father met with Hickman to pay the ransom, he could see his daughter in the car. After getting the cash, Hickman sped off, dumping the girl's body a little down the road. She'd been sawn in half and her eyes were propped open with sticks to make her look alive. They later found other pieces of her all over Los Angeles.
Rand wrote nice things about a guy who dumped the mutilated body of a girl in front of her father. If someone did that today, we hope we'd see President Obama sign into law the Hey Everyone, Let's Punch This Guy in the Balls Until He Dies Act, and not see accolades from a leading author.
3. Bret Easton Ellis
Why You Should Read Him: Bret Easton Ellis is the heavy metal version of J. D. Salinger. If you ever want to explore the completely meaningless existence of upper-middle class yuppies, then Ellis is your guy. We're talking American Psycho and Less Than Zero here. Both are totally bleak looks at the amorality of a mindless consumer culture, and both are controversial classics.
Why He's a Douchebag: Maybe you're familiar with the "It Gets Better" campaign aimed at students who may be the targets of bullies? The campaign is dedicated to assuring kids who may feel suicidal that the bullying does end, and you can move past it into a good life. It's become a worldwide movement.
But to hear Ellis tell it in a tweet, "Not to bum everyone out, but can we get a reality check here? It gets worse." Well, speaking as someone who was dragged off a school bus by his long hair and kicked in the ribs until he couldn't breathe, we would just like to invite Ellis to kiss us where the poop comes out. It does get better, douchebag.
2. H. P. Lovecraft
Why You Should Read Him: Are you kidding? Lovecraft wrote the finest weird tales ever. The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, the Lurker on the Threshold, the list goes on and on and on. If there is a more daring and influential horror writer of the 20th century, then we haven't read him. Lovecraft changed it all, and only the brave should dare the pages of his stories.
Why He Was a Douchebag: Calling someone of Lovecraft's time period racist and sexist may seem a little like calling a KKK member inbred. You're going to have to let a few things slide. Still, even for puritanical, early-20th century New England, Lovecraft set the bar.
You see hints of his vile hatred of what he called in letters "the mongrel races" in many stories. The Street, The Horror at Red Hook and others all mention, in annoying, repetitious detail, how unpleasant he found slanted eyes, sallow faces, foreign words and alien cultures. Indeed, a great many of his more famous stories, such as The Shadow Over Innsmouth, are little more than analogies to the dangers of interracial breeding polluting pure white bloodlines.
And women? Well, we've read over a hundred Lovecraft stories and we can think of less than five women who appear total. Even then, only one is good-hearted, and she is actually the victim of an unfortunate body snatch so you hardly get to see the real her. Otherwise, women are completely absent or are evil witches.
1. Orson Scott Card
Why You Should Read Him: Ender's Game may be the greatest tale of youth since To Kill a Mockingbird. In it, kids start military training for space age navies as preteens, and Ender's rise through the ranks shows the brutality of war, the necessity of sacrifice and, most of all, the ability of innocence to overcome horror.
Why He's a Douchebag: Orson Scott Card would very much like you to take up armed rebellion and violently overthrow any state that legalizes gay marriage, or recognizes gay unions as anything other than the sinniest sin that ever sinned a sin.
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Card is a devout Mormon, and says that giving gay people rights violates his faith. Well, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney are both Mormons who have somehow managed to calm their tits long enough to realize that taking civil liberties away from a whole group of people just because you think what they're doing is icky is somewhat less-than-inspired American leadership.
Card doesn't want you to answer in the polls, though. No, he wants a war. A real war. Here's a quote.
How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.
This is not an isolated incident. He is a douchebag. Oh, and by the way, Ender's Game? The kids spend half the damn book naked, often in the shower, and the only girl is tolerated when she disrobes because she still looks like a boy at her stage of development.