Friday, July 20, 2007

Book Meme

Ten Writers who Need to be Beaten With A Bat Until They Stop.

I'm going to have to stick with seven, because - well, because I can't think of any more. Maybe I'll do the other three later.

1. Thomas Hardy. (Read a lot because I had to - Eng.Lit A-level, then a degree.) The man was an unrelenting doom merchant, so up to his eyebrows in the tragedy of the Common Man he couldn't see the sun shine. (Unless he bent over, of course. No, that was gratuitous.) Jude the Obscure! How penny-dreadful can you get! I can't tell you in detail, of course, you may read it and you really shouldn't be forewarned. The Mayor of Casterbridge - now that was a laugh a page. Like 24 without the mobile phones.

2. Ernest Hemingway. (Read half Death in the Afternoon. Really really coudln't get any further, and I don't give up easy.) Everything First Nations said. Every page reeks of booze and self-justification.

3.Stephen Donaldson. (Read two tomes. Where did my life go!) Thomas Covenant! This should have been so good! Huge sprawling canvas, hero with an interesting flaw, cast of thousands, in-fighting, out-fighting, you name it. But you know what they say - good on paper, lousy in bed. So boring I can't remember how boring it actually was. Still, a page or two and I was sound asleep, so it did have its uses.

4.Cicero. (Latin A-level.) Oh, Cicero. Golden Age of the language, a man right at the heart of the Mightiness That Was Rome, mover, shaker, not given to losing his head. (Or his hands.) But Oh. My. Gosh. All of that fabulous vocabulary, the elegant sentence structure, the meter, the rhythm, and all he could do was character assassination. I'd have voted for Catiline. Mind you, I have not read Imperium, or seen Rome II yet, so there is a chance that years and years and years after leaving school my opinion might be changed. I will, of course, keep you posted. Because you are aching to know.

5.Paul Coelho. (Veronica Decides to Die. No actually, it's Mangonel who badly needs to pop her clogs.) What is it with this man? He has a HUGE following in South and Central America, every time he farts he must earn a squazillion Oreos, or whatever the local currency is, and The Man. Writes. Pap. Earnest, crap-mystical, feel-good PAP. Life's not like that - it's nasty, brutish and short, and he needs to get that into his rich glass-half-full head.

6.Torey Hayden, Dave Pelzer et al. (None. These guys should be top of my list, and I haven't read ONE.) Look at the list of subjects Wikipedia gives for Hayden - autism, Tourette syndrome, sexual abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, selective mutism. It makes me so sad and angry that people's hideous experiences should be turned into after-dinner conversation. I don't care that they know what they are talking about, they should have the professional responsibility not to turn suffering on this scale into voyeuristic schlock.

7.St Paul (Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians etc.) Or maybe he should be top. The others exposed human misery, he imposed it. On a colossal scale. Now, I know that what the man achieved is world-shaking. (He was the bloke who broke with the Disciples, who wanted to preach exclusively to Jews, and took The Word to the Gentiles across the known world. Himself. HUGE.) His place in history is assured. But my problem with Paul is that he was writing out of the belief that the Second Coming was due in his own lifetime. All his prescriptions and proscriptions had an acknowleged shelf life of about 50 years. He SPECIFICALLY counselled against social change, because the Kingdom of God was at hand. And 2,000 years later we are still cribb'd, cabin'd and confined by strictures 1950 years past their use-by date. The big trouble I have with any theodicy is that it always reflects what Man wants, not what God wants. And Paul was the bloke who started it. (And no, by 'Man' I do not mean to include women. 'He for God only, she for God in him.' Milton, I know, and beautifully phrased, but poisonous nevertheless.) *


8, 9 and 10.

I tag Betty, because. She knows why. And Dave - judging by the books appearing in his sidebar, we have very similar tastes in the good stuff. But do we hate the same crap?

*Dunno why I went with a Milton quote, when Paul himself would have done just as well. Paul did, after all write beautifully. Well, at least according to King James he did.


FirstNations said...

wow, that there's some acres of badness i haven't even traversed, mang! *library card begins to smoke*
(crap. you make cicero sound so appealing, too.)

Dave said...

Maybe. I'll see. Don't feel particularly inspired.

Zig said...

o! I quite liked the Alchemist! but otherwise I agree PC is a bit too much to bear. How about Louis de Bernieres though? He makes me laugh out loud!

Mangonel said...

Zig, why though? He's a little overcooked, I grant you, but does that mean The Bat? And which bits were funny? I'll tell you my Hardy bits if you tell me your de Bernieres bits.

Anonymous said...

martin amis - don't forget martin amis

I, Like The View said...

I used to quite like Paolo howeveryouspellhissurname and then I read some book or other which I can't really remember the title of now and went right off him

The Manual Of the Warrior of Light is good tho,if you need a quick feel-good-pick-me-up-and-slap-me-in-the-face tho

sometimes I sympathise with the South Americans for the need of a pick-me-up