Author Topic: Truly Terrible Books thread  (Read 16117 times)

Flying_Monkey

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #50 on: March 10, 2011, 04:53:26 pm »
I didn't bother with the rest of the Baroque cycle.
IMO, everything he wrote after "Snow Crash" has been a bit shit ... I tried to read "The Diamond Age" but gave up about halfway through.

IMHO, The Diamond Age was excellent, perhaps his best. Far better than the in-jokey geekfest that constituted Snow Crash. Anathem is rather good.

Eccentrica Gallumbits

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #51 on: March 10, 2011, 04:54:56 pm »
I read the whole Twilight series on holiday in Halkidiki. It rained so heavily for the entire two weeks there was localised flooding and we couldn't go anywhere, so we were less fussy about entertainment than we might otherwise have been. It is utter utter utter drivel. Seriously, it's worse than Dan Brown. I found myself wishing for a cross-over chapter with Spike arriving in town and eating Bella and dusting Edward.

I really like a lot of Stephen King's stuff but his later works have been substandard. N in Just After Sunset is really creepy though.
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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #52 on: March 11, 2011, 12:11:08 pm »
I didn't bother with the rest of the Baroque cycle.
IMO, everything he wrote after "Snow Crash" has been a bit shit ... I tried to read "The Diamond Age" but gave up about halfway through.

IMHO, The Diamond Age was excellent, perhaps his best. Far better than the in-jokey geekfest that constituted Snow Crash. Anathem is rather good.
I just realised that I've read Snow Crash. It annoyed the uck out of me, until I checked the publication date.

It's old. Really old. Pre-www. He was obviously aiming at a non-computer-geek audience, trying to go for the "wow computerz can be c00l" feel for people who didn't know what a modem was.
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Flying_Monkey

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #53 on: March 12, 2011, 03:29:40 am »
It's old. Really old. Pre-www. He was obviously aiming at a non-computer-geek audience, trying to go for the "wow computerz can be c00l" feel for people who didn't know what a modem was.

It's more like an affectionate satire of cyberpunk (most of the cyberpunk writers had no real idea what computers did - William Gibson wrote Neuromancer on a typewriter listening to the Velvet Underground). Stephenson on the other hand is a real computer geek, which seems to have advantages and disadvantages for him as a writer.

Billy Weir

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #54 on: March 12, 2011, 11:16:39 am »
I find "experimental" novels truly awful.  The ones where the author is attempting to subvert narrative conventions.  Prime contender is JG Ballard's "The Atrocity Exhbition".  And James Joyce's "Ulysses" is way, way, way, way, way over-rated.  It's a pity I have hardback copy, because it means the paper isn't even fit for wiping my arse with.

(I also find so-called classics like the piffle written by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters plain annoying, but can appreciate they are not terrible books in the true sense of the word).

Flying_Monkey

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #55 on: March 12, 2011, 08:46:32 pm »
I find "experimental" novels truly awful.  The ones where the author is attempting to subvert narrative conventions.  Prime contender is JG Ballard's "The Atrocity Exhbition".  And James Joyce's "Ulysses" is way, way, way, way, way over-rated.  It's a pity I have hardback copy, because it means the paper isn't even fit for wiping my arse with.

Ulysses would be worth it even if it only consisted only of Molly Bloom's last orgasmic sentence. Anyone who can't see that this is a great piece of writing isn't quite alive to what writing can do IMHO. But if you hate it so much why do you even have a copy, let along a hardback? Perhaps you should try giving it to someone who would appreciate it? It might make just you less angry...

Just about all my favourite novels are experimental ones, and you've mentioned two of them there. If you have an aversion to these, I would advise you not to try to read anything by Italo Calvino, Georges Perec or indeed any of the great mid-century European writers. Perhaps also avoid Franz Kafka, Joseph Conrad, Nabokov and all the modernists. They messed around with form and expectations too. Oh, and Lawrence Sterne and the other writers who invented the novel as we know it. After all, the novel was in itself a challenge to existing narrative conventions of the time...

HTFB

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #56 on: March 12, 2011, 09:15:47 pm »
T R U L Y

If you're going to criticise...

Billy Weir

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #57 on: March 13, 2011, 03:05:25 pm »
I find "experimental" novels truly awful.  The ones where the author is attempting to subvert narrative conventions.  Prime contender is JG Ballard's "The Atrocity Exhbition".  And James Joyce's "Ulysses" is way, way, way, way, way over-rated.  It's a pity I have hardback copy, because it means the paper isn't even fit for wiping my arse with.

Ulysses would be worth it even if it only consisted only of Molly Bloom's last orgasmic sentence. Anyone who can't see that this is a great piece of writing isn't quite alive to what writing can do IMHO. But if you hate it so much why do you even have a copy, let along a hardback? Perhaps you should try giving it to someone who would appreciate it? It might make just you less angry...

Just about all my favourite novels are experimental ones, and you've mentioned two of them there. If you have an aversion to these, I would advise you not to try to read anything by Italo Calvino, Georges Perec or indeed any of the great mid-century European writers. Perhaps also avoid Franz Kafka, Joseph Conrad, Nabokov and all the modernists. They messed around with form and expectations too. Oh, and Lawrence Sterne and the other writers who invented the novel as we know it. After all, the novel was in itself a challenge to existing narrative conventions of the time...

I keep Joyce on my shelf to look well read.  And it's a badge of honour, much like War and Peace.  I had 3 attempts at reading Ulysses before I forced myself to get to the end.  Intellectual curiosity and all that.

I've read Kafka, Conrad and Nabokov.  At least two of those I got some enjoyment out of, from memory.  I might have a read of Calvino and Perec, as I've not heard of them.  Likewise Sterne.

Mr Larrington

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #58 on: March 15, 2011, 12:28:52 pm »
Calvino's Our Ancestors is accessible enow even for an untutored oaf like me.
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Karla

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #59 on: March 15, 2011, 12:33:24 pm »
I've read Kafka, Conrad and Nabokov.  At least two of those I got some enjoyment out of, from memory.  I might have a read of Calvino and Perec, as I've not heard of them.  Likewise Sterne.

Conrad?  I'll grant that Nostromo's rather verbose, but Heart of Darkness is pretty accessible.

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #60 on: March 15, 2011, 01:29:35 pm »
Conrad is very lightweight in language and form. Excellent, if depressing, stories tho'.

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citoyen

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #61 on: March 15, 2011, 02:07:56 pm »
I find "experimental" novels truly awful.  The ones where the author is attempting to subvert narrative conventions.

Well, some experimental novels are awful but some are brilliant... It seems a slightly fatuous distinction.

Quote
(I also find so-called classics like the piffle written by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters plain annoying, but can appreciate they are not terrible books in the true sense of the word).

Why mention Austen and the Brontes in particular? And why cite only women writers when mentioning "so-called classics"? Do you feel the same about Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray? Or is it that you feel women are particularly prone to writing "piffle"?

Austen and the Brontes have very little in common, apart from being women. In both style and subject matter, Austen is nothing like the Brontes. And Austen is a brilliant writer - incredibly elegant prose, and very witty. I'm not much of a fan of the Brontes. Wouldn't call them "truly terrible", just not my thing.

DH Lawrence and Thomas Hardy are two "so-called classic" writers I've struggled to hold an interest in. They tend towards the turgid.

Dan Brown goes without saying, but since everyone else has mentioned him, I'll add my vote. Shockingly bad.

d.

Eccentrica Gallumbits

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #62 on: March 15, 2011, 06:01:55 pm »
I struggle with Hardy's novels, but I do like his poems.
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Tim Hall

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2011, 06:19:57 pm »
A few years ago I picked up The Worst Book Ever Written at my local library. I can't remember the title unfortunately, so you can't be warned.

It was shite.

Umm, plot was, minor league criminal does stuff. Then some stuff happened. Then he did some more stuff.

It was set in Reigate and Redhill, with the names cunningly changed to Redgate and something else, to protect the innocent. And he shags another bloke, with the aid of some butter in his packed lunch, in the sandpits at Merstham.

It was shite.
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her_welshness

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2011, 06:31:48 pm »
I find "experimental" novels truly awful.  The ones where the author is attempting to subvert narrative conventions.

Well, some experimental novels are awful but some are brilliant... It seems a slightly fatuous distinction.

Quote
(I also find so-called classics like the piffle written by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters plain annoying, but can appreciate they are not terrible books in the true sense of the word).

Why mention Austen and the Brontes in particular? And why cite only women writers when mentioning "so-called classics"? Do you feel the same about Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray? Or is it that you feel women are particularly prone to writing "piffle"?

Austen and the Brontes have very little in common, apart from being women. In both style and subject matter, Austen is nothing like the Brontes. And Austen is a brilliant writer - incredibly elegant prose, and very witty. I'm not much of a fan of the Brontes. Wouldn't call them "truly terrible", just not my thing.

DH Lawrence and Thomas Hardy are two "so-called classic" writers I've struggled to hold an interest in. They tend towards the turgid.

Dan Brown goes without saying, but since everyone else has mentioned him, I'll add my vote. Shockingly bad.

d.


+ 1. Austen is not only incredibly funny but she seems to understand the human condition. The Brontes vary considerably, I find that I preferred Anne's to the others. Billy, I found your comments about women writers and piffle incredibly sad, even if you do find the likes of them to be merely low-quality there are others who more than add to that genre of classic fiction, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Gaskell and Flora Thompson being just a few, but all of them brilliant.

Not a big fan of DH Lawrence either. I've noticed that there is a TV adaption of 'Women in Love' on the Beeb.

Billy Weir

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #65 on: March 15, 2011, 06:37:20 pm »
Why mention Austen and the Brontes in particular? And why cite only women writers when mentioning "so-called classics"?

Because they sprung to mind.  Although your implication is clear.  Why do you only cite white English speakers?

Billy Weir

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #66 on: March 15, 2011, 06:42:23 pm »
Billy, I found your comments about women writers and piffle incredibly sad

Erm, I wasn't singling out women.  And the word piffle sprung to mind because it felt apt to the period (1800s).  Men from that generation were just as able in writing books I personally find tedious.

her_welshness

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #67 on: March 15, 2011, 06:53:08 pm »
Billy, I found your comments about women writers and piffle incredibly sad

Erm, I wasn't singling out women.  Men from the same period were just as able in writing piffle.  It's the general style of novels from that period I don't get on with.

Quote
(I also find so-called classics like the piffle written by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters plain annoying, but can appreciate they are not terrible books in the true sense of the word).

There you go. Your comments were ambiguously aimed at Austen and everyone else from her genre of writing as being piffle. Those 'style of novels' embody a large canon of literature. They are not to be dismissed as piffle.

Billy Weir

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #68 on: March 15, 2011, 06:55:52 pm »
Sorry if I've come across as a twat.

her_welshness

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #69 on: March 15, 2011, 06:57:36 pm »
Sorry if I've come across as a twat.

You haven't!  :-*

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #70 on: March 15, 2011, 06:58:57 pm »
Maybe we need an overrated books thread...

Anyway, someone's lent me one of the Twilight books, so I'll add it to the pile, and see if it really is all that bad.  

vorsprung

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #71 on: March 15, 2011, 09:38:56 pm »
I disagree with Song of Stone. I thought Dead Air and The Business were far worse.


The Business was great, we'll have to agree to disagree on this.
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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #72 on: March 15, 2011, 09:51:32 pm »
I disagree with Song of Stone. I thought Dead Air and The Business were far worse.


The Business was great, we'll have to agree to disagree on this.

I think Song of Stone was Banks's last attempt to write anything different. After the poor reception that it got he's just been recycling old stuff.  There were passages in Dead Air that had me on the edge of my seat, but most of the novel just didn't engage me, perhaps because the protagonist was such an appalling idiot.  The Business was awful, Steep Approach To Garbadale worse...  ;)
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her_welshness

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Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #73 on: March 15, 2011, 09:52:42 pm »
I disagree with Song of Stone. I thought Dead Air and The Business were far worse.


The Business was great, we'll have to agree to disagree on this.

I enjoyed the Business as well. The Crow Road was very good.

Re: Truely Terrible Books thread
« Reply #74 on: March 15, 2011, 09:54:14 pm »
The Business didn't leave much of an impression on me.  I can hardly remember anything that happened in it.

I enjoyed the Steep Approach to Garbadale, but it was pretty much a re-hash of themes and plots covered in the Crow Road and Whit.

I still haven't read a Song of Stone; the reviews at the time were awful.  But, this thread is prompting me at least to read it, to see if it is all that bad.