Overhyped Wastes of Time
So, I’ve been reading H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness this past week. Lovecraft is, as I’ve always understood in, the undisputed master of literary horror, surpassing Stephen King and all those other guys who write in the same genre.* I was excited about reading this story, because I thought – hey! Lovecraft! I’ve heard of this! Also Benicio del Toro is making a film out of this story, so it must be capable of scaring the pants of off me! Or at least creeping me out more than Alec Baldwin does.**
However, this is not the case. The first third of the book is talking about drills, and fossils, and how cold it is in Antarctica. I know how cold it is in Antarctica; or, at least, I can imagine, and I imagine that it is really effing cold.
Granted, I am only 63% of the way through this novel, but I really ought to have been freaking out by, say, 30%. The Eye of the World didn’t do that, but it had an excuse which is that it was 700 pages long.
This got me thinking about books that I sat down to read, recommended to me by others or by the literary establishment, that turned out to be colossal wastes of my time.
1. The Thief Megan Whalen Turner
A friend recommended this children’s novel to me based on some of the attributes of a novel I was working on and posting on Fictionpress at the time (which is also now becoming Steel). She told me that reading my novel reminded her of this book, and everyone I knew who had read it said it was fantastic. I thought, okay! I’ll go ahead and read it!
Here’s the review I posted on Visual Bookshelf on Facebook just after finishing the novel (in one sitting). I recently copy-pasta’d it to GoodReads as well.
Pretty lame. This earned a Newberry award? The premise and the general plot are commendable, and the world is fantastic, but it is almost impossible to follow. I read this at 19 and couldn’t figure out the characterization or what the heck was going on most of the time… even for a children’s book, it moved too quickly. Taking some more time with everything, instead of rushing through it and giving us only a fingernail scratching’s worth of a picture would make this a much better read.
Yeah. I was not real impressed.
2. Moby Dick Herman Melville
If there’s one thing that irks me, it’s people shoving old books in your face, calling them “classics”, and then expecting you to believe that there will be a huge, gaping, aching hole in the depths of your very being if you don’t read it.
Moby Dick is one of those.
More or less, unless you’re really interested in whales and whaling and that sort of thing, go ahead and pick up the film version starring Gregory Peck and save yourself a couple of self-inflicted eye gougings.
3. Twilight Stephenie Meyer
Oh, I could say a lot about Twilight, but I’m not going to say much, because I’m pretty tired of complaining about it. My best friend and the rest of the universe recommended this book to me, and to be honest, when I finished it, I was like, “Huh! That wasn’t half bad!”
Then the cotton-candy feeling faded from the inside of my skull and I realized that I’d just spent three days reading a load of garbage and absolute drivel. I thought the characters played like cardboard cutouts – in fact, the epitome of Mary-Sue and Dark!Gary-Stu – and that the plot was nothing more than Meyer fangirling over Edward. There was little to no conflict at all until about 3/4 of the way through the book, which is absolutely ridiculous. Now I’m actually embarrassed to admit that I’ve read the damn thing.
4. A Walk to Remember Nicolas Sparks
You know, I really don’t get all the hype about this Nicolas Spark guy.
Actually, I do. He found a formula that speaks to women who like the sort of books he writes, and holy crap is he milking it for all it’s worth. Seriously. Dan Brown did the same thing, I hear, with The Da Vinci Code, which is to say that he found the elements that made every bestseller a bestseller – I’m serious, the guy researched this – and then crammed it all into one book. I haven’t read the thing, since my family would probably stab me to death if they caught me with it, but I am interested in reading it to see what about it, exactly, hit the literary world by storm. I know it pissed the Church off a lot, but I mean, hey. That’s not the guy’s fault, that there are tards out there who can’t research something they may or may not have learned from a work of fiction.
But we’re not talking about Dan Brown, here, we’re talking about Nicolas Sparks. I did see the film based on this book when I was about fifteen, and it really didn’t impress me much. I mean, okay, well-made film, but I was much more into Lord of the Rings and Spiderman and Dune, and trust me, A Walk to Remember is none of those things.
I read the book something like six months later? And I’ll tell you what, if Twilight made me feel like my head was crammed full of cotton candy, then A Walk to Remember made me feel like someone as MAKING cotton candy inside of my skull and then licking it out of my brainpan. Blegh.***
I’m sure there are a lot more books that I really could have lived my life without reading. Some that I didn’t hate quite as much as I hated these were The Scarlet Letter, Alan Ginsberg’s Howl††, and some other modern and postmodern bullshit.†††
* Fact: there are none.
** Seriously. Alec Baldwin makes me physically uncomfortable.
*** No, I mean really: blegh. The mental image that just conjured was not pleasant. Although that could also be the two-years-expired pizza crust† I just unknowingly ate.
†Here’s a hint: if it smells like Play-doh before you bake it, and then it TASTES like Play-doh after you bake it, stop eating after bite one and check the bag, not slice one.
†† I swear to you there is no more pretentious man on the face of the earth.
††† Here’s another hint: if you go bumming around the country for seven years being a lazy mooch, then sit down at a typewriter and scribble it all down in one go and then publish it without editing, that doesn’t making you a literary genius, that makes you a pretentious tard.‡
‡And for the cheap seats: yes, I mean Jack Kerouac.
Posted on April 25, 2011, in Not Writing, Reading and tagged creepy, herman melville, Lovecraft, nicolas sparks, pretentious dickbutts, reading, stephenie meyer, twilight. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.