Just a quick post today. My son, Josh, is coming up around noon for Father's day and will be here for a couple of days. I won't be posting or reading blogs during that time. We've got some fun things to do that don't involve the computer. In the meantime, though, I'll leave you with a brief commentary on famous books that suck.
1. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Often referred to as the first modern novel, there are indeed some good things in this book. The writing isn't bad and the characters are well drawn. There are some justifiably famous lines, "From Hell's heart I stab at thee." However, the book is very long, with numerous asides that are info dumps on whaling and have nothing to do with the basic storyline. It took me nearly two years to read it and I still shudder a bit at the thought.
2. William Hope Hodgson wrote a very fine book called The House on the Borderland. I loved it's surreal prose and imagery, and the feeling of real dislocation within it. So naturally I tried Hodgson's The Night Land. Big mistake. The book is agonizingly slow and repetitive and is written with a biblical tone that is interesting at first but soon grows old. There is some fine imagery in it, and it showcases Hodgson's twisted but brilliant imagination, but the basic story is not very interesting in the first place. (It's about reincarnated lovers.) And the repetive elements are enough to drive a reader mad themselves. I thought if I was going to have to read one more time about how they: walked 8 hours and ate some tablets and slept for six hours, that I was going to scream. The books is about 200,000 words long, and I understand there is a 20,000 word version called The Dream of X. I sure wish I'd read that one first.
3. Requiem for a Dream, by Hubert Selby Jr. I've mentioned my dislike of this book before, and unlike with my first two picks I can't find anything positive to say about it. All I can say is, I wanted all the characters (except the main junkie's mom) to die as quickly as possible so I'd be put out of their misery. The writing is absolutely bland, with paragraphs that run on for whole pages and at the same time combine dialogue from several speakers without using any quotation marks or tags to let you know who is speaking. If you must experience something of this work, watch the movie, which is not my favorite in the world but is a thousand times better than the book.
And now, for two items that definitely do NOT suck. I just finished reading Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, and I found it to be very fine. I'll be doing a review of the book as a blog post sometime soon. I also read "Love's Clothing," by Rachel V. Olivier, which is a short story in the March 2010 issue of Aoife's Kiss. Good stuff. Very inventive. With a great setting and backstory. I recommend both works.