Friday, 6 May 2011

Things I Don't Like

Mr Zimmerman over at The Nude Orc Review of Books posted an excellent list of his literary nemeses, and I'm not only mentioning that so I get to write the word 'nemeses'. I'm mentioning it because I read the post this morning, and spent the day at work trying to figure out who I disliked in Bookworld.

It turns out very few authors have irked me. I could only really think of Martin Amis, and I don't have a 'why' for that. So I came home with a list of literary ephemera that gets me all peeved and shit:

Harry Potter Hype Hate
It's absolutely okay to not like Harry Potter. I think I would like it less if I hadn't been 10 when the first book came out. But lots of literary smirkers in my circle hate on it, not because it's bad, but because it's popular.

It's a kids' series. It's not meant to be great prose or appealingly existential. Acknowledge it for what it is; don't call people stupid for reading it, even if they're adults; try not to sound so bitter; admit that the story is a tiny bit fantastic; be super-excited that books can occassionally reach film-levels of public love; judge less.

The Closed Cirle
This sequel to the fantastic Rotter's Club is terrible. Not only is it a bad book following up on a good book, it is a bad book deliberately out to spoil what made the first book special. Sequels in general: only go there if the second book is twice as good as the first. If you, the author, don't think it's twice as good, then the reader won't find it half as good.

As Good As FAMOUS AUTHOR Or Your Money Back
I see this on the front of books all the time. Do publishers really think they can accurately and objectively quantify GOOD? If you have that superpower, don't use it to sell a few extra copies of the last Mark Billingham, fools! Use it to conquer the moral quandary of multi-cultural relativism, or start the perfect society on a farm in Scotland.

In any decent-sized bookshop, there are hundreds of books on which a critic or fellow author has drooled this most false and demanding word. I would stake a limb that there are more 'unmissable' books than there are hours in the average lifetime, and who could read War & Jest (or whatever) in an hour? Let's be realistic, people.

And while we're on press quotes: Will the Daily Mail stop employing insomniacs? Having 'it kept me up all night/I couldn't put it down all night/I lost sleep by not putting it down all throughout the hours of darkness' on every single copy of every single thriller/crime in the UK does not help anybody discern anything.

Blessed vitriol. Does anyone else get madder at small things like this than big things like Osama, Alternative Voting or Cormac McCarthy?


  1. HAHAHA the Nude Orc! I love it.

  2. Dude, the Nude Orc is high, high comedy. Thanks for shout out! Martin Amis is a good one - I've only read one of his books and was unimpressed. But I know he has a fiercely loyal following, so he may deserve another shot.

  3. I'm with you on the Harry Potter hype hate thing. In general, the hype backlash thing can be frustrating. Books with the same boring plot... those drive me nuts. It's bad enough to lack originality... but must the books choose the most boring, lamest, unoriginal stories?

  4. I started reading a Martin Amis years ago, but didn't quite make it to the finishing line. I feel slightly guilty that I didn't give it enough attention, which both undermines and exaggerates my dislike of him... awkward.

    Biblibio, I agree: if you ARE going to recycle a plot, at least have the decency to pick a fantastic and unusual one.