Monday, February 15, 2010

Erik: The Age of Enlightenment

Like many writers living abroad, I often peruse the internet to educate myself on what people in the U.S. are thinking about my novel, The Book of Samuel. One fourteen-year old reviewer said my novel was “…a nice short story…” another said that the writing was “eloquent,” but at the same time, “the words were complicated.” So I decided to search through LibraryThing and and Goodreads to see what people were saying about the books that not only inspired, but provided reference points for me while I was writing The Book of Samuel. While I found many wonderful reviews of classic books, I also wondered what kind of person would give say, Goodnight Moon, one out of five stars (for "...unjustified repetition..."). This is what I found:

Lord of the Flies: “The plot wasn't really to my liking, and more than one part made me want to toss my cookies… 1.5 out of 5 for severely awkward sausage-fests.”

The Sun Also Rises: “An absolute steaming pile, if you ask me.”

The Canterbury Tales: “I was bothered by how far out from modern society the attitudes were in this book.”

Paddy Clarke HA HA HA: “…I've come to accept that I loathe books written from the perspectives of children. It's a cheap method of making tragedy more tragic…”

The Divine Comedy: “I basically just get it, and it's not that great to me. It's just some guy who's putting people in a fictional Hell/Purgatory/Paradise where he thinks they'd belong. That's not that great of an idea to me, and actually comes off as a little adolescent.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God: “…reading this was like watching the idiot babysitter go in to the basement when you KNOW the scary monster is down there.”

To the Lighthouse: “As the first section to The Sound and The Fury is, this book was a tough read. They're both stream of conscious classics that have accomplished much, but, for a contemporary reader like myself, the freshness of that immediacy to thought is stripped of its power in an age where I can send my professor my essay with my phone.”

Interpreter of Maladies: “… the stories are not well described and the plots are too simple…”

Anna Karenina: I hated it so much, I didn't even finish it. This is the first time in my life where I actually did that. I think it's because I don't understand what it means to live on a farm.”

Disgrace: “A lifetime subscription to Playboy could not better calcify in my mind the idea of men, even fancily educated ones, as shallow, selfish, nymphette-obsessed douchebags. This book actually hurt my self-esteem.”

Jane Eyre: “The only thing worse than a period movie is a period book.”

Catcher In The Rye: “Holden Caulfield, collete (sic) student, has little tolerance for anything pretensious (sic), including the scramble for social status, drops out and leaves college on blind journey to anywhere searching his dreams and fantasies for meaning, understanding, and simple honest relational experience, finds none of this, suffers breakdown, ends up back home, finds that happiness can't be found by seeking for it, that it's inherently prior and must be chosen.”

The Bell Jar: “I prefer childbirth.”

Pride and Prejudice: “I'm totally enamored of the movie, which proves that the story is a good one, even if Austen's narrative style seems to be an exercise in tedium.”

The Great Gatsby: “…while the story manages to become somewhat interesting, the writing is pretty dreadful and original comment non existent.”

Wide Sargasso Sea: “Almost as bad as Virginia Woolf's junk. And that's bad.”

Huckleberry Finn: “One of the reasons why I hate this book because its confusing just everything, coming all at once. I have to stop and be like "Wait, whaat's (sic) happening here"? Also because of the hillbilly like language too. Another reason why I hate it, is because its sad, I don't like that a lot of people die, to me its just slighty (sic) annoying about people keep dying, cause you can get also bored with it.”

Gulliver’s Travels: “…lots of unreal mithical (sic) creatures.”

Don Quixote: “This is, undoubtedly, the worst book I have ever attempted to read. Surprisingly, I did enjoy the dinner theatre version of the musical, however.”


  1. Funny quotes, especially the "I prefer childbirth one" and the one about Goodnight Moon. However, I don't think it's such a terrible thing to dislike a supposedly classic novel. Many such novels really are past their time, and people reading purely for enjoyment (or being forced to read for English class) have a right to dislike old books that are out-of-touch, are written in an old-fashioned manner, and are outside their experiences/interests. I was an English major, and I hated Don Quixote and Jane Eyre. Good stories, maybe, but I couldn't bear to slog through the writing. While I loved Catcher in the Rye, many intelligent folks in my class despised it. Once, we had to read Joseph Andrews in class (billed as the "first" real novel). I couldn't get through it, and halfway through the half-hearted class discussion the professor stopped us and apologized for making us read the book. He said that in retrospect, the book was pretty terrible. I was glad I'd made my own decision not to read it!

  2. Wonderful list; thanks for the grins! and good luck with more of Samuel's reviews--I hope nobody prefers childbirth anyway LOL

  3. Those reviews made me LAUGH. I agree with the first commenter that it's not a bad thing to dislike a classic. But you KNOW some of those people post reviews just to sound pithy and clever... I've learned, in many of the fiction workshops I've participated in that you have to learn to pick out those who are sincere from those who just like to hear themselves talk down to someone/something else.

  4. These made me laugh, especially the one about Canterbury Tales. Also enjoyed the really horrible grammar in the review about Huckleberry Finn that complains about its "hillbilly speech."

  5. The first time I read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" I didn't get why it was so popular , I felt confused by the plot. Many years later, I read it again and fell in love with it. Sometimes you read a book at the wrong point in your life, you are not ready for it yet.

  6. Yikes, most of those are on my lifetime favorites list - and One Hundred Years of Solitude. I promise to remember this post when my first bad review reduces me to a puddle of heartbreak! :D