One Shot Wonders

by C. M. Albrecht

I‘ve sometimes wondered at the continued popularity of certain books while so many — even if they’re temporarily hot — quickly languish and fade away.

I think about one-shot wonders like, “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Gone with the Wind”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Moby Dick”. True, Melville is remembered for “Bartleby” too, but only by a few.

I’ve really wondered what it is that makes these books so special, and in the end, while they certainly speak to a segment of readers, I can’t see why they’re so much more memorable than so many others. Maybe I’m missing something.

Of course I’m not blind to the fact that these books contain memorable characters, Cap’n Ahab, Scout and her dad, “Tomorrow is another day” Scarlet; Holden. There’s only one Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, only one Oliver Twist, etc. But in our times even the most memorable characters have fallen by the wayside. Kitty, Mildred Pierce.

Unfortunately none of Salinger’s, Mitchell’s, Lee’s and Melville’s characters particularly appeal to me, so maybe that’s my problem. Hey, that’s okay, I certainly have my blind spots. I can’t see why millions of fans go nutty over football games either. The only part of football that I can understand is the part about beer and hotdogs. Nowadays with chicken hot dogs being all the rage, I wouldn’t even eat a hot dog at a game, and I don’t have to pay big bucks to freeze on a bench in a snowstorm to enjoy a beer.

Who knows which books and characters will catch on in the public mind and continue to sell thousands of copies each and every year in the future? Publishers can’t predict, otherwise the Dollar Tree wouldn’t be a great place to buy books. In the end, only the reading public can and will decide that for us.

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