Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Secret Loathings

This is way too good a topic to leave in the comments.

What great work of literature do you hate? Everyone else loves it, admires it, quotes it whenever they get the chance, but it makes you want to stab a fork into the back of your hand when the dinner party plaudits start flying?

Frances and I have admitted to wishing The Time Traveller's Wife would disappear, and Tim tells us he can't stand Waiting for Godot...


Frances said...

Is the Da Vinci Code too obvious? It is soooo badly written, that I only managed about 3 chapters. And Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (Booker prize-winner 2004). Worst confession of all - The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. One of the most acclaimed novels of this century (apparently). It was one of the most difficult books I've ever read. I still don't know what it was about. But that may say more about me than about Doris Lessing (who I sometimes like). And I'm so glad you agree with me about TTW, Aliya. In addition to your comments, I also thought it was gimmicky and irritating.

David Isaak said...

Da Vinci Code doesn't count, Frances, because you haven't read it. And neither have I, for the same reason. But I don't think anyone thinks it was a work of art anyhow.

But I'll tell you what was popular and a critic success that I found to be a real slog: Cold Mountain. I found the style contrived and annoying and I thought the protagonist was a bore. (And I know it's supposed to be a Ulysses story, and therefore literary, but the guy is no crafty Odysseus.)

"Money" by Martin Amis isn't so hot, either (and I like a lot of his stuff). Don't know how it consistently makes the list of the Top 100 20th Century Novels.

I think TTW is okay, but I'm not enraptured by it. On the other hand, I always say nice things about it as it is one of the only fiction megabestsellers ever published over here by an indie press (the excellent MacAdam/Cage).

Tim Stretton said...

Philistine Alert:

All post-Mill on the Floss George Eliot sends me screaming for the exits. If Middlemarch is "one of the few English novels written for grown-ups", as Virginia Woolf claimed, then I'm still lying around in nappies eating apple puree.

I recognise all her many virtues and dispute none of them; but her work leaves me cold. Just a little leavening of humour might have gone a long way...

Matt Curran said...

I'm with Tim on Middlemarch. In the end it made a rather good doorstop during the summer while I was at university.

Another book I was less impressed with was Jim Crace's Quarantine. I just thought it was too much hard work. Having said that, I loved his The Pest House.

(Sarah loved TTW, so I'll bow to her judgement on that.)