Should a Novelist's Anti-Gay-Marriage Views Matter?

12/02/2011 03:11 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012

I didn't know until after I read his book.

When I finished Lost Boys today, I looked up Orson Scott Card on the web to learn more about him and see what other novels he has written. Lost Boys was the first Card book I ever read, and I liked it enough to possibly try another of the author's many titles.

It was on the Web that I discovered Card has actively and publicly opposed same-sex marriage, which greatly upset me because I'm a strong believer in gays and lesbians having the right to wed. So I asked myself: Do I ever want to read this guy again?

Lost Boys is a very good 1992 novel about an economically struggling Mormon family that moves to North Carolina in 1983 after the father gets a job at a software company. The family and workplace dynamics are interesting, the dialogue is believable, there's some humor, there's a nice take on the beginnings of the personal computer revolution, there are several blood-pressure-raising nasty characters, and there's rising suspense as local kids disappear.

The book also offers insight into Mormonism (Card's faith) without being too doctrinaire it. But the author's strong, real-life stance against same-sex marriage seems pretty doctrinaire to me. Why should gays and lesbians be denied the opportunity to have a loving, married-couple-headed family like the one depicted so well in Lost Boys? (I'm heterosexual, for whatever that's worth.)

Ultimately, I decided I would not open a Card book again. This is similar to a decision I made years ago not to read much of Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer because of the macho nonsense they were guilty of in their personal lives. (And I didn't see a Woody Allen movie for a long time after his shenanigans that might have almost bordered on incest.)

Yes, I may be missing out on some great literature, but I'll survive. I have a list of hundreds of other great novels I want to read. There's only time for so many books, anyway.

But shouldn't I get some exposure to right-wing, narrow-minded viewpoints? Well, I'm already inundated with those viewpoints when I read much of the mainstream media or hear many politicians open their mouths. Plus I read plenty of books by authors who are not liberal, or are objectionable in some other way. We all pick and choose, so if I consider a novel a "must read," I'll read it even if I don't like the book's or the author's ideology.

For instance, Jack London was allegedly a racist, which is dismaying, but he didn't make a big point of it in his novels. So I kind of look the other way and read him avidly. I still read and reread John Steinbeck even though he supported the disastrous Vietnam War. I also love authors such as Herman Melville and Cormac McCarthy even though I'm a feminist and their books have very few significant female characters. (I don't know those two authors' views about women in their real lives.)

In short, I have no hard and fast rules. Maybe I'm all over the map on this. But the very good writer Card is not an all-time author, and I won't devote any more eyeball time to a guy who fights against an important civil and human right for millions of Americans.

How do you feel about reading books by authors whose personal views you oppose?

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