Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sending the pain below

Below, we discussed one's top ten books. Knowing the top ten books of your interlocutor is key when talking book recommendations. Given the Venn diagram overlap with your own preferences you can then determine the usefulness or lack thereof of that person's recommendations.

Equally useful is a list of the bottom ten, or the bottom nine in my case, as that is all I could recall. The other one is probably so bad that my subconscious has hidden it from me to protect my sanity.

Please note that I have avoided books that I thought over-rated, but included those that were disappointing because of their relationship to the author's other books.

Demons by John Shirley. Horror novels are, with limited exceptions, by definition bad. To make it into the bottom nine, the book has to take bad to a transcendent level. Since the book is about hell, maybe Shirley wants to make the book hell for the reader. Success!

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. While this neverending series started strong, it slowly grew into an exercise in masochism. How about 700 pages of no plot development before anything of plot significance? That would be fine if this was great or even decent writing, but it's not.

The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Ellroy is one of my favorite writers, but he decided he was James Joyce with this one. I didn't like reading Ulysses and I didn't like reading the Cold Six Thousand.

The River Why
by David Duncan. If there is any genre which makes me want detonate explosives, it is the Life and How to Live It genre. In the most pedantic, insulting, and treacly manner possible these authors tell us the secrets of living in their novel-length homilies. River Why extends my distaste by adopting an awful cornpone "accent" for many of its characters. You have to deal with crap along the lines of "Seems like a body oughtta to listen to the little folk, let's see what lil' Herkey kin tell us."

The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville. Neville wrote one of my favorite books, the Eight, which may be the greatest of the smart person thrillers. The Magic Circle was a crushing disappointment. Its not a mildly bad book, it is so bad that by comparison Dan Brown should be winning Pulitzers. Check the Amazon reviews for the fans who refuse to face reality.

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Perhaps its is New Orleans thing and I just don't understand. Walker Percy's forward is charming, but I still dislike the book.

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Here's a shocker, a bad fantasy novel. Will wonders never cease? So what sets this one apart? The hundred plus page S&M torture/love scene was really just too much. If you want that, go read Topping From Below.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. When I told Steve I didn't like the book he replied "It takes a cold hearted man to not like Owen Meany." That was going to be the name of this blog, but I chose another stupid one instead. BTW, I concur with the first line of the Publisher's Weekly review, as listed on Amazon.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The worst of the worst. This is the worst book I have ever read and ever will read. If I read anything worse, my hate will become so dense that I will collapse into a black hole.

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