Not that it was stupid, but heinously repetitive. I get it dude, certain cultures have benefited immensely from geographic luck in what agricultural resources were available as they evolved. You've effectively proven your point half way through the book. Wrap it up.
I like House of Leaves, so sue me.
Catcher in the Rye is a fine book, but I didn't read it until I was 35, so I think some of the special affection folks have for it may have passed me by.
Agreed on Friedman, and I use elements of The World is Flat in my daily work. Damn it was a haul to get through that book.
Generation X. Douglas Coupland sucks.
The Outsiders. It didn't even appeal to me when I was a young punk. I hated those $#@!s.
The Great Gatsby. I couldn't see what was so great about it. The movie sucked, too.
I never read Catcher in The Rye until a couple of years ago. I did it as an audiobook while working on a project outside, because I wanted to try an audiobook, and an old friend used to insist that I read it. I enjoyed it enough. Definitely better than all the other pointless tripe they made me read in school.
And I don't give a rat's ass what anybody says, Shakespeare can suck it. It sounded all nice and flowery and stuff, but as far as I'm concerned he was the Aaron Spelling of his day. And I get why he is revered as a writer for his form and style and influence. But there was probably some poor bastard genius was writing circles around him but never caught the popularity of the masses because it was over their heads. Kings and ghosts and stuff are a pretty easy sell.
Shakespeare is a tough read. It takes some effort to fall into the flow and the cadence and the rhythm.
But well worth it.
I definitely get that not everyone can do it; it's almost a foreign language. But I would submit that you cannot be "well read" without at least a half a dozen of the plays under your belt.
Just my $0.02.
Yeah, I tried "Confederacy" but couldn't get into it.
I think "On the Road" and "Catcher in the Rye" and that ilk are horribly overrated. But then again, I didn't read them in their own time, when I suppose they were more impactful. I have a friend who's into that whole thing right now and it's kind of odd because we're way too old to be trying to live like that. Then again, he only read "hitchiker's guide" when he was in his early 30's, when most of us read it in junior high.
I'll go with 'books I've been forced to read, and thought were stupid' top 5:
Everything by Jane Austen and the Bronte's
Boring? Maybe. Stupid? Never.For another submission. Paradise Lost. $#@!ing piece of $#@!.
THE DAN BROWN CODE
Approximately three people still haven't read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code: Mark Liberman, David Lupher, and reportedly at least one other person (as yet unidentified).*
Regrettably, neither Barbara nor I are able to claim that the third non-reader is one of us. What can I say by way of excuse for this? I found the book was on sale really cheap in CostCo when we were about to leave on a trip to Europe. I bought it for the long, long flights that lay ahead of us, without knowing much about it except that it was supposed to be an intellectual mystery with cryptography and symbology and stuff and the blurbs said it was great. I didn't open it, I just grabbed one off a pallet of about 500 copies. Barbara was between mysteries at the time, so she grabbed it from me and rapidly read it over the next couple of days before we even left for the airport. I asked hopefully what it was like. She scowled and said something about the Hardy Boys. My heart sank; I understood her to mean it was pathetic but possibly of interest to the 11-year-old market. By the time we were on our plane she had made sure that her flight bag contained a new novel by Menking Hannell, and over southern Oregon she told me it was great as usual. Unfortunately I had no better idea of what to do with my time, so I opened The Da Vinci Code.
I am still trying to come up with a fully convincing account of just what it was about his very first sentence, indeed the very first word, that told me instantly that I was in for a very bad time stylistically.
The Da Vinci Code may well be the only novel ever written that begins with the word renowned. Here is the paragraph with which the book opens. The scene (says a dateline under the chapter heading, 'Prologue') is the Louvre, late at night:
Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.
I think what enabled the first word to tip me off that I was about to spend a number of hours in the company of one of the worst prose stylists in the history of literature was this. Putting curriculum vitae details into complex modifiers on proper names or definite descriptions is what you do in journalistic stories about deaths; you just don't do it in describing an event in a narrative. So this might be reasonable text for the opening of a newspaper report the next day:
Renowned curator Jacques Saunière died last night in the Louvre at the age of 76.
But Brown packs such details into the first two words of an action sequence — details of not only his protagonist's profession but also his prestige in the field. It doesn't work here. It has the ring of utter ineptitude. The details have no relevance, of course, to what is being narrated (Saunière is fleeing an attacker and pulls down the painting to trigger the alarm system and the security gates). We could have deduced that he would be fairly well known in the museum trade from the fact that he was curating at the Louvre.
The writing goes on in similar vein, committing style and word choice blunders in almost every paragraph (sometimes every line). Look at the phrase "the seventy-six-year-old man". It's a complete let-down: we knew he was a man — the anaphoric pronoun "he" had just been used to refer to him. (This is perhaps where "curator" could have been slipped in for the first time, without "renowned", if the passage were rewritten.) Look at "heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas." We don't need to know it's a masterpiece (it's a Caravaggio hanging in the Louvre, that should be enough in the way of credentials, for heaven's sake). Surely "toward him" feels better than "toward himself" (though I guess both are grammatical here). Surely "tore from the wall" should be "tore away from the wall". Surely a single man can't fall into a heap (there's only him, that's not a heap). And why repeat the name "Saunière" here instead of the pronoun "he"? Who else is around? (Caravaggio hasn't been mentioned; "a Caravaggio" uses the name as an attributive modifier with conventionally elided head noun "painting". That isn't a mention of the man.)
Well, actually, there is someone else around, but we only learn that three paragraphs down, after "a thundering iron gate" has fallen (by the way, it's the fall that makes a thundering noise: there's no such thing as a thundering gate). "The curator" (his profession is now named a second time in case you missed it) "...crawled out from under the canvas and scanned the cavernous space for someplace to hide" (the colloquial American "someplace" seems very odd here as compared with standard "somewhere"). Then:
A voice spoke, chillingly close. "Do not move."
On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.
Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.
Just count the infelicities here. A voice doesn't speak —a person speaks; a voice is what a person speaks with. "Chillingly close" would be right in your ear, whereas this voice is fifteen feet away behind the thundering gate. The curator (do we really need to be told his profession a third time?) cannot slowly turn his head if he has frozen; freezing (as a voluntary human action) means temporarily ceasing all muscular movements. And crucially, a silhouette does not stare! A silhouette is a shadow. If Saunière can see the man's pale skin, thinning hair, iris color, and red pupils (all at fifteen feet), the man cannot possibly be in silhouette.
Brown's writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad. In some passages scarcely a word or phrase seems to have been carefully selected or compared with alternatives. I slogged through 454 pages of this syntactic swill, and it never gets much better. Why did I keep reading? Because London Heathrow is a long way from San Francisco International, and airline magazines are thin, and two-month-old Hollywood drivel on a small screen hanging two seats in front of my row did not appeal, that's why. And why did I keep the book instead of dropping it into a Heathrow trash bin? Because it seemed to me to be such a fund of lessons in how not to write.
I don't think I'd want to say these things about a first-time novelist, it would seem a cruel blow to a budding career. But Dan Brown is all over the best-seller lists now. In paperback and hardback, and in many languages, he is a phenomenon. He is up there with the Stephen Kings and the John Grishams and nothing I say can conceivably harm him. He is a huge, blockbuster, worldwide success who can go anywhere he wants and need never work again. And he writes like the kind of freshman student who makes you want to give up the whole idea of teaching. Never mind the ridiculous plot and the stupid anagrams and puzzle clues as the book proceeds, this is a terrible, terrible example of the thriller-writer's craft.
Which brings us to the question of the blurbs. "Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country," said Nelson DeMille, a bestselling author who has himself hit the #1 spot in the New York Times list. Unbelievable mendacity. And there are four other similar pieces of praise on the back cover. Together those blurbs convinced me to put this piece of garbage on the CostCo cart along with the the 72-pack of toilet rolls. Thriller writers must have a code of honor that requires that they all praise each other's new novels, a kind of omerta that enjoins them to silence about the fact that some fellow member of the guild has given evidence of total stylistic cluelessness. A fraternal code of silence. We could call it... the Da Vinci code; or the Dan Brown code.
This thread kicks ass!
House of Leaves. What a terrible waste of ink and Poe's reputation.
Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser was a big letdown considering the strength of Fast Food Nation.
Don't have anything bad to say about Hawthorne, George Eliot, or the other high school-type classics getting all the hate. Animal Farm wasn't, like, pumped full of action, but, man, those pigs were just wrong. Trying to walk like humans, gross! Aww, the horse, poor guy!
That is hilarious! If I hadn't been told that it was a really great story I would've put it right back down. After a few pages I got into the plot and after that I didn't really notice it.I've seen a lot of articles about this very thing. It's hilarious.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
I realize that it's supposed to be a self-indulgent mess, but I still hated it.
I read it when I was just getting into hipster-lit, and, while I enjoy the genre, the fact that Eggers has any success at all befuddles me to no end.
Also, I don't understand the philistines in here hating on Wuthering Heights, 100 Years of Solitude, and A Confederacy of Dunces.
Great Expectations $#@!in sucked. i found out that $#@!ens got payed by the word for that book and that's why he filled it was so much bull$#@! and made it so got damn long. bad bad read.
Just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it didn't suck, but it was pretty damn meh. The first 150-200 pages or so were an absolute beating, then it was great for like 200 pages, then ended with a huge whimper, a good 50-100 pages after it should have.
This isn't going to be a popular pick, but I really don't understand the acclaim for Ulysses. It may be the single most boring and pointless book I've ever read.
I was going to attempt to put into words exactly what that book was trying to be and then say it was the exact opposite. Thankfully wiki did it far better.
Ulysses' stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—full of puns, parodies, and allusions, as well as its rich characterisations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon.
All of the things he was trying to do there, failures.
Grapes of Wrath: Probably a good book, but I quit cause I was pretty sure I'd be ready to slit my wrists by the end.
Moby $#@!: Holy crap, could that guy pontificate forever about nothing.
Charles $#@!ens: Great character names, but, it seems, every sentence had at least three qualifying clauses, if a qualifying clause meant a pointless aside.
Look Homeward, Angel: It was about something, but I never figured out what.
Much of Shakespeare's brilliance was lost in translation.
I've never seen someone so artfully joke about $#@!s and vaginas for pages on end.
He would have been very popular on the Shag.
Take Titus Andronicus for example.
Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.
Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.
I agree that anything by the Bronte sisters sucks donkey balls. I second the notion that The Awakening might be the worst book ever. And I would like to nominate Things Fall Apart as fodder for a glorious bonfire.
I tried to read Catcher in the Rye twice and I just couldn't finish it, I started reading it when I was 35 so maybe that's part of the problem. I read Frankenstein and was actually surprised that I enjoyed it though. May start on Dracula next.
I'll cosign Catcher in the Rye for anyone over about 18 being stupid. It's a decent coming of age book for a mid teenager.
I had almost purged this from my memory, but $#@!, Angela's Ashes is a pile of stupid $#@!. Oh, a miserable childhood in Ireland? $#@! that was awful.
Anyone here read Madame Bovary? I'm sure I mentioned it earlier in this thread but if not, just so y'all know, it sucks. Big time.
Anything by Dan Brown: Same plot line in every single one and stupid people with important jobs. I can't believe I read them all and I am lesser human being for it.
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