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Worst Book By a Good Author?

May 10, 2011

Interesting question popped up on the BookBlogger forum on Ning.

What’s the worst book by a good author you’ve ever read?

I see this in two ways: an author I otherwise love drops the ball in one particular book; or there’s a book I can tell is good quality, but I’m having a miserable time reading it. (Sort of like drinking a really bitter, hoppy IPA, that I can tell is well made but tastes like peppery mouthwash to me.)

In the category of personal favorite authors dropping the ball, jumping the shark, or having a literary bad hair day.

Children of the Mind- Orson Scott Card. I was so eager to read this, curious about how the story I loved in Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide could possibly wrap up! A disease that needed a cure! Human-alien relations. An AI causing an affair! There was lots to work with. And the result… yuck. I thought Card had better chops than to send his characters on a three hour tour on the Good Ship MacGuffin.

Harry Potter and the Lack Of Editing, err, I mean Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The road trip that would not end! Odd plot devices coming out of nowhere! Not enough Neville! I have nothing but respect for J.K. Rowling, in that she brought imaginative fantasy into a giant crossover success, and did well for herself. But… the last installment had me wondering whether she’d become too much of a famous, cash cow, as to become untouchable by an editor. I wish the story had been sharper, like The Prisoner of Azkaban.

And now… for the other answer: good quality books I just couldn’t stand. It was usually a question of loathing the characters and their actions.

Americana by Don DeLillo. Martini lunches! Groping secretaries! Hating their wives! So yes, like Mad Men, it captures a picture of a bygone era, but wow did the book make me furious. Couldn’t finish it. I liked Great Jones Street much better, because DeLillo’s use of language is lovely, even while the characters make me gnash my teeth.

Catcher in the Rye– J.D. Salinger. Even while Holden Caulfield kept making me want to reach through the book and pummel him with a large brick, I could tell it was well written. I should read something else by Salinger at some point and would welcome suggestions.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 7:37 am

    I didn’t care for This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald (my thoughts http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=87).

  2. Patricia Blomeley-Maddigan permalink
    May 11, 2011 3:19 pm

    Oh, Elizabeth, I so agree with you on “Catcher in the Rye”, and am actually relieved to hear someone else say it!! Most people say: “What a great book!” I did not read it in my high school era – as alot of people do – I read it just a couple of years ago when I was about 52. I will admit I had high expectations, which is not good for reading a new book, or watching a new movie! Nevertheless, I forged ahead to the end of the book. But what a RELIEF when I read the last word, and closed the book. Like you I have said, maybe I need to read more Salinger; or with an OPEN mind, re-read the “Catcher in the Rye”…….. Or not!

    • May 11, 2011 6:04 pm

      If you hold my hand.. I’d be willing to read some other Salinger? Have you tried anything else?

      • Patricia Blomeley-Maddigan permalink
        May 12, 2011 12:25 am

        No, I have not tried any other Salinger. I am embarassed to ask but, did he write alot, i.e. did he write a number of books? We could look at what else he wrote, pick one that appealled to both us, read it, and compare notes. I will if you will!!

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