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24 September 2010 @ 08:57 am
reading meme: day five  

Day 05 – A book you hate

I really do wish I could remember the book I read when I was 19, the one that made me say, “Christ, I can do better than *this*,” and sit down to write my first novel. But I honestly have no idea what it was.

There are, though, some books I can make blanket “I loathed this” statements about. In fact, there are authors who fit wholesale into that category: Jack L. Chalker is one of them. And for some reason I read quite a *lot* of Chalker as a teen, so I can say with impunity that I really dislike his books.

Stephen R. Donaldson narrowly misses that categorization, too. I read the Covenant books–at least three or four, disliking them more and more as I went on–and had I realized the Mordant’s Need books were by the same writer I’d never have picked them up. But I did, and I quite like them, so Donaldson isn’t a wholesale loss for me.

One book I actually feel sort of guilty admitting to disliking, because the author died recently and was the friend of many of my LJ-writer-friends, is Robert Holdstock’s MYTHAGO WOOD, which I mistakenly believed had been written by Charles de Lint. I disliked it so violently that I held it against de Lint for about fifteen years before discovering he hadn’t written it. I *still* haven’t read any de Lint, but at least I’m no longer blaming someone else’s book on him.

Nor did I like Michael Swanwick’s THE IRON DRAGON’S DAUGHTER, which still frustrates me because I love the title beyond reason. In fact, the Inheritors’ Cycle books were spawned by that title, and I’m grumpy that I can’t use it for myself.

Outside the genre, I positively hated THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. I do believe it’s the first book I ever quit reading. I stopped at the bit where the guy gets shot through the cheek. It was just too gross, even though I had a quiz on it. Fortunately, my friend Peter had finished the book and told me what I needed to know (in exchange, I told him what happened in LORD JIM, and I believe we both passed the tests). And A SEPARATE PEACE is also on my short list of gaaaah never again. And I already mentioned the great disappointment of EMILY’S QUEST, which is probably enough to end this blog on. :)

Well, to end it on except for saying I won’t be doing the meme over the weekends (thus eking another week out of it, moo hoo hoo!), since there’s less traffic then anyway. :)

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Michael M Jonesoneminutemonkey on September 24th, 2010 08:09 am (UTC)
Huh. For reasons that escape me now, I disliked The Iron Dragon's Daughter so much that it put me off of Swanwick for years afterwards. I suppose it was the ending, since I liked it to a point. This was a long time ago, long enough for the specifics to blur. A pity, Swanwick's certainly a nice guy, and talented.

If you've never tried de Lint, I suggest dipping your toe in with one of his short story collections, as I'm still in love with the way he built up this amazingly magical fictional city through dozens of short stories and repeating characters. I may not always love his longer works, or even all of his short stuff, but it was in Dreams Underfoot, and in The Ivory and the Horn, that I first saw exactly what it was I wanted to do, and how and why.

But that's just my thought. :>
kitmizkit on September 24th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I think I've had nearly every book de Lint has written recommended to me as the place to start, as soon as people find out I haven't read him. :)
Bryantbryant on September 24th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
Wow, Iron Dragon's Daughter as inspiration makes so much sense now that you say it. Hee.
kit: inheritorscyclemizkit on September 24th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
Doesn't it, I asked ruefully? :)
Bryantbryant on September 24th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it's such a different direction!
kitmizkit on September 24th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I clearly didn't get what I wanted out of Swanwick's use of that title. :)
mayakdamayakda on September 24th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with disliking the Covenant books and loving Mordant's Need. Never tried his other books.

LOLing at the Holdstock/de Lint mix-up. The title Mythago Wood does sound very Lintish, doesn't it? I haven't read it though. I generally like De Lint, specially his short stories.

Two fairly recent books I really dislike. Wildfire by Sarah Micklem (specially since the first book, Firethorn, was really promising) and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. Ugh, I just feel like I was in the therapists office with the author reading those.
wednesday childewedschilde on September 24th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
i hated Lord of the Flies
Geek of Weird Shit: sensualgows on September 24th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
*snicker* You haven't read de Lint, but he's read you. I find this marvelously ironic, given de Lint's status in the urban fantasy world.

And yes, The Iron Dragon's Daughter is a magnificent title! The other title I have remembered since my childhood (although I've never read the book) is The Moon's Fire-eating Daughter.

I quite liked The Red Badge of Courage, but then again, gore doesn't much bother me. My sophomore English class really focused on the colors, which was cool and kind of distracting.
kitmizkit on September 24th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
I was, um. 8, I think, when I was assigned RED BADGE. Possibly ten. Either way, it was not appropriate reading for me at that age. Neither was LORD JIM, but I at least made it through that.
Geek of Weird Shit: fireygows on September 24th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)

Oh lord. GAH.

Don't know anything about Lord Jim, though.

I remember a boy in 5th-6th grade trying to gross me out by telling me about the ending in Where the Red Fern Grows about the dog getting gutted and its intestines getting all tangled up in brush or something. (I thought of it a few years ago when doing a cadaver lab and realized that Wasn't Quite Right, but it had obviously left its mark.)
Alix (Tersa): Arwen Reading (tersa)tersa on September 24th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
EIGHT?!?! Jesus.

I read it as a 14 year old freshman. Not my favorite, but I could at least get through it.
Alix (Tersa): Arwen Reading (tersa)tersa on September 24th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
The only book I can remember violently despising was some Catherine Coulter historical romance novel that read like "Taming of the Shrew" except the spirited heroine was completely docile at the end.

When I got to the end of it, it became the first book I ever wanted to burn. Not everyone's copies, just mine. Because it needed killin'.
A large duckburger_eater on September 24th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
I hated A Separate Peace, too; it had a shocking lack of monsters and stabbing.
Herefoxherefox on September 24th, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
You know, I understand completely about the Jack Chalker books since I always feel vaguely guilty about enjoying them because they're so misogynistic. I know they're terrible but I think it's like loving a bad movie when you're younger. You know it's terrible but nostalgia still makes it enjoyable.

On the subject of bad books, I threw 1984 by George Orwell across the room and refused to pick it up for at least a week because I didn't even want to touch the horrible thing again.

Keys to Conflict by Talia Griffin was possibly the WORST genre book I've ever read in my life...picked it up on a whim, kept reading once I realized it was a train wreck, finally finished the book in abject horror that the thing had gotten published.

I immediately did the bad milk thing and passed it around to my friends to share the pain.
Grand High Simiansimianpower on September 24th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I've hated every Chalker book I read, too. But we have opposite tastes re: Donaldson: I like Covenant (not for the main character, but the supporting cast) and thought Mordant's Need was barely meh.

I've had Iron Dragon's Daughter strongly recommended to me, but I never read it. It just doesn't sound like a good book based on the blurbs I've read.
rfrancis on September 24th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
I liked Covenant (but mamamoira strenously disagrees) -- mostly for the concepts, more than the execution, which swung ridiculously from touching to tedious to ... indescribable, really. Chalker is an interesting contrast, in that he also started with interesting concepts, but the execution was so utterly execrable in every case that it swallowed whole the interesting stuff, and usually after a couple of books I actually felt physically ill. So, that's nice.

I couldn't finish a single Shannara book; it felt so utterly derivative that I couldn't focus while reading it. Similar with the Mallorean, which I've never finished, although ironically, that was because it was so derivative of the Belgariad. :)

hegemony hedgehogagrimony on September 25th, 2010 01:10 am (UTC)
The Red Pony.

The Red G-Damned Pony.

Loathed it. LOATHED IT. The freaking pony /dies/ in like the first chapter or something utterly ridiculous! Gah. In fact, I've not enjoyed anything by Steinbeck that I've read. I'm fairly strongly anti-Hemingway, too.
Wolf Lahti: Sabrinawolflahti on September 26th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)

I fail to understand why The Red Badge of Courage is considered such a classic. It is awkwardly written and features an unlikeable character who doesn't go through a character arc so much as suddenly being a different person at the end. It is repetitive, saying the same thing with almost exactly the same wording at several different points in the book. Within a few paragraphs, the protagonist fears he will find that he's a coward, then he's sure that he will be brave, then he's convinced his squad mates are grand fellows, and then they're all idiots for believing him to be a better man than he is, and the officers are idiots and he knows so much more about how to wage a battle than they. He's a coward and a liar - and then he picks up a flag and is a hero, at least in his won eyes.