Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Humble Explanations of Why I Have Thrown These Books Across The Room



1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles… by Thomas Hardy…Have you read it? If you have, you won’t wonder why. No hope for the wise, good and beautiful among us. Not a bit..

2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton… This is Edith Wharton’s life vision? Really? Seriously? I read once that Edith used to write in the morning and garden in the afternoon. If that’s true she must have had a garden that reeked of garbage where slithering poisonous snakes squirmed, slugs made lace of her foliage, and hungry chattering squirrels threw pine cone cores at her while she was digging in unyielding, red clay soil. If I could, I would unpublish that book.

3. Beach Music by Pat Conroy… Now, I’ve read nearly every word Pat Conroy has published and I admire him greatly. He’s funny, skillful, appalling and he writes startling prose. In his novel The Great Santini, Conroy writes a scene where the children make a "cake" out of dog poop to celebrate something their hostile father loves. Beach Music is book basically made from the the same sort of stuff written to rub everyone's nose in Conroy's obsessions. Hated it. Still disappointed.

4. Sister Carrie by Theodor Dreiser -- Ick, ick and endless ick… after a contrived situation, unspeakably sad things happen to someone who is no one’s sister for no good reason. Nothing can or is done to stop or relieve them. The ending may be the first “so what?” ending in American Literature. If it had never been written, we probably wouldn’t have so many trillions of modern books and short stories with book tossing endings.

5. The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher – Typically, I like (not love) Rosamunde Pilcher and though I read this many years ago I remember throwing this book across the room; it is a BIG book and it sort of splatted on the floor by my chair (didn’t make it all the way across the room). I was angry because of one line that the protagonist said smugly in response to her sister’s struggle to provide for her son. It went something like, “There’s no sense bleeding yourself white for the sake of one small boy.” Now, that’s a pretty good image and the sentence has a nice rhythm but I hated the disconnect, the lack of understanding for the basic truth of motherhood. Instead the narrative celebrated a resentful, self-indulgent motherhood as the superior attitude. It struck me as unjust! Mothers of the world unite with me to heft this heavy volume into the abyss!
Has anyone out there thrown a book across the room?

7 comments:

  1. Yes I have but mostly they are just self help books that someone gave to me for Christmas or conveniently left in my bathroom. I'm generally more forgiving of Novelists just because at least they have to use their brains to write the novel at some point.

    I think this post should become a reoccurring thing.

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  2. I do not remember throwing a book across the room, but after trying, unsuccessfully, to read Pillars of the Earth by Keith Follett on the train from Venice to Vienna, I abandoned it on some Austrian train.

    It's poorly written and poorly thought out, and I'm not sure what else there ought to be in a book.

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  3. I too am more prone to throw the self help book... well, to be more accurate, the pregnancy/parenting book. I've always felt awkward about throwing a novel--like I must be at fault for not understanding "why". but after reading this, and one of the novels, I somehow feel newly entitled to go to my shelf and throw those lifeless, pointless novels that said, "I'm too pretentious for you to understand" to the other side of the room. what an encouragement :) I AM allowed to have an opinion about what I read!

    which novels do you finish and then hug for the sheer joy of them?

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  4. LOVE this blog. Want to see more. :)

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  5. Hey, wait a minute. I have hungry chattering squirrels throwing pine cones and lots of other stuff at me all the time. I just consider it another entertaining day in the garden. :o)

    Yes, The Other Boelyn Girl and Eat, Love, Pray. One was truly disgusting and the other was an exercise in frustration as the author searched for truth and when she thought she found it, was still way off base. I usually pass books on to others, but these two I just had to pitch.

    However, to me, the all time worst is Wuthering Heights. Every girl should read it (not for pleasure). Heathcliff embodies all the characteristics of a dangerous boyfriend. Any girl who knows anyone remotely like him should run the other way. Red flags should be popping up in her head. His relationship with Kathy is sicko and a great portrait of a user, abuser in the making. This book is not romantic but very disturbing.

    And, yes, I agree...Thomas Hardy is dark. He was my favorite author all through high school and college. Nice to be living in a brighter place now.

    For me, The Shell Seekers' most redemptive feature was that it introduced me to Cornwall. Since then I'v read and enjoyed many books in that setting.

    My friend says her "throw across the room" books are 19 Minutes by Jodi Piccoult and Love in the Time of Cholera. She threw them in the trashcan. Sometimes it is hard to understand why certain books get such good reviews.

    I gotta say...this fun!

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  6. Hi, Yes, I have thrown a book across the room. The Divinci Code. Loved it up until the point where you figure out that Jesus has an illegitimate son with Mary Magdalene. I was so made I threw it across the room. it was a paperback so it hit the wall on the other side. I thought that was a pretty lame conclusion but other than that it was a page turner. Now, Tess of the D'Urbervilles I loved! I love all of Thomas Hardy books. I think I've read them all. He has such great character development. I also loved Beach Music though I can't remember much of it, as I read it so long ago. The other 3 I haven't read so can't comment. Should I read them or count myself lucky to have not read them?

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  7. Loris, this is great--so honest! You ought to be a book reviewer for SOMEBODY! I've never tossed a book across the room, but I've closed many before finishing, or worse yet, finished, then sighed and complained, "Well, what a waste of time that book was!"
    I don't really remember any titles though. So sad. guess that says something, doesn't it?

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