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Fiat Lux
01-10-2003, 04:17 PM
You hear all sorts of good things about an author. S/he keeps coming up when discussions of the books you like are held. All your friends rave about the author. Then you finally get around to reading one of their books and it's... well, eh. What was all the fuss about?

For me, it's G.K Chesterton. A lot of the authors I really like, such as Gaiman and Borges and Wolfe, say they're very influenced by this guy and I was looking to reading some of his books. After chewing my way through The Man Who Was Thursday and a couple of Father Brown collections, I have to just... err... emote: :confused: . Chesterton is a smug, preachy little conservative and his characters are likewise. How can such great authors gain inspiration from this?

Still, that's just me. What authors do you hate to hate, because you wanted to like them?

astorian
01-10-2003, 04:35 PM
Originally posted by Fiat Lux
Chesterton is a smug, preachy little conservative and his characters are likewise. How can such great authors gain inspiration from this?



Conservative? Now, THERE'S an adjective I bet the unabashed socialist Chesterton never expected to be tarred with!

Winston Bongo
01-10-2003, 05:30 PM
Thomas Pynchon. It's not that I think he's a BAD writer. It's just that I don't LIKE his stuff. I can admire his work aesthetically and appreciate his intellect . . . but somehow that's the problem. Everything he writes screams out, "This book was written by Thomas Pynchon! He is very smart, that Thomas Pynchon guy who wrote this book!"

In other words, the presence of the author is inescapable. This can work in short story form (ah, R. A. Lafferty!), but gets tedious when stretched to novel-length.

GoldenGael
01-10-2003, 05:50 PM
For me, it's Henry James.

I think I am just not in sync with the majority opinion that he is one of the masters of English prose, and of the very novel form itself. He probably is, but I don't think I can read another word of his. He is probably too subtle for me, and I can't understand what he is getting at most of the time.

I have read Turn of the Screw four times, and I still don't get what is going on -- I still don't understand what happens the the end of the story.

I have The Portrait of a Lady, and I still don't understand what went on between the Lady and her husband that was so monstrous.

I have read The Ambassadors, but I still don't get what exactly happened, and I'll be damned if I understand why the main character of the novel left that juicy American woman in Paris to go home when he really had nothing to go home to.

I just can't get started on The Golden Bowl.

It's funny. Several excellent films have been made from James's novels, but even after viewing them, I still can't follow the novels. Several of his short pieces are gems, though.

I have given up.

fizgig
01-10-2003, 06:01 PM
Faulkner, Hemingway, and Henry James.


I'm so ashamed.



Wait. No I'm not.

Mr. Blue Sky
01-10-2003, 06:41 PM
Clive Barker. I tried to read his stuff only to slam the book shut after three chapters.

raygirvan
01-10-2003, 08:05 PM
Colin Dexter. I hoped the books would contain some element of the superb atmosphere and characterisation of the Inspector Morse television adaptations ... but they don't. All power to whoever saw the TV potential in some of most dull and pompous detective fiction I've ever read.

Sampiro
01-10-2003, 08:53 PM
Totally ditto the Henry James; to me he's one of the most obnoxiously pretentious and wordy authors to come along between Flaubert and Anne Rice.
James Michener- his works inspired some great movies and mini-series (Hawaii, Centennial, South Pacific), but he's the rare case of the film being much better than the book. I'm convinced he couldn't give directions to the nearest 7-11 without starting with a volcano explosion, his characters are never developed and seem to exist only to connect their underveloped ancestors to the underdeveloped descendants, and just when you start to find something remotely interesting he skips ahead 200 years.
Gore Vidal- I think he's one of the greatest essayists of the 20th century (though not the 21st- his recent stuff is so much bitter old man "America is evil and the rest of the world is superior" crap from a faded provocateur), but his fiction, which won critical raves and public acceptance, is some of the most lifeless I've ever read. I'm convinced the man knows nothing about human emotion and that his hatred for Truman Capote is roughly akin to Salieri's for Mozart in the play Amadeus.

Less classically and more currently, Lemony Snicket came heavily recommended. I read the first two books and couldn't stand either one of them.

Hermann Melville- I think I might have come to like Moby Dick if it hadn't been ruined for me by a lit professor who sees symbolism and depth in everything from the ISBN to the numerology of the page numbers.

Gadarene
01-10-2003, 09:11 PM
David Sedaris. I know, I know--he's made every one of my literate, funny friends scream with laughter. And he seems just the sort of author I'd like; sarcastic, satirical, intelligent. But...meh. Too affected.

Zsofia
01-10-2003, 10:42 PM
I very much want to like Kurt Vonnegut. Everybody I know does. He spoke at my college graduation. And I can appreciate his books. I get it, you know. But I just don't like them. There's a quality in there that sits so wrong with me, some part of tone or reasoning that irritates me but that I can't put my finger on.

Sampiro
01-10-2003, 10:58 PM
[mini-rant]Of course, what drives me nuts is when I say "I don't like X's books", and the person I'm telling this begins trying to explicate them. I DIDN'T SAY I DON'T FREAKING "GET" HIS BOOKS, I SAID I DON'T LIKE THEM![/mini-rant]

Triss
01-10-2003, 11:36 PM
Dean Koontz

Thomas Pynchon (if he's the one that wrote House of the Seven Gables)

Clive Barker (except for one story: The Yattering, from his Books of Blood)

Anne Rice (except for the first three installments of the Vampire Chronicles)

SolGrundy
01-10-2003, 11:54 PM
Neil Gaiman's prose. I loved The Sandman, and Good Omens is one of my top 5 favorite books. And I briefly corresponded with him over e-mail several years ago, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. And I like his ideas, and the amount of research he puts into his work. But Neverwhere did nothing for me. I bought one of his books of short stories, and it couldn't even keep my attention span long enough to finish that. And I started American Gods; it wasn't that I lost interest as much as I felt it was actually physically repelling me.

At this point I feel like I'm just buying the guy's books to help support him and as a sign of support for that kind of book to get published. I'm not getting anything out of the transaction.

BrightEyes
01-11-2003, 12:04 AM
Douglas Adams.

I enjoy his books in the inetresting kind of story way. Just it's his jokes I think that stink.

::Ducks:

Nightime
01-11-2003, 12:21 AM
Chesterton is one of my favorite authors. Especially for "The Man Who Was Thursday." I also liked "Good Omens", which is dedicated to Chesterton, but it was boring at times and I wouldn't want to read it again.

I just read "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" by Heinlein, and didn't like it at all, despite wanting to like it.

MissTake
01-11-2003, 12:30 AM
John Grisham. Never could stand his books. *yawn*
James Michener, also.

Orange Skinner
01-11-2003, 12:32 AM
Henry James for me too...I can't make it past page five of Wings of the Dove without wanting to use my bookmark to gouge out my own eyes.

I hate Nathaniel Hawthorne.


I just can't seem to idolize Tolkien as much as everyone else seems to. I like his plots, I like the characters, the conflict...but there's something missing for me, and I can't honestly say I like him.

I don't really like Hemmingway, either. Ick.

Orange Skinner
01-11-2003, 12:36 AM
Oh...and Victor Hugo. *shudder* I tried, though. Really, I did.

vivalostwages
01-11-2003, 12:41 AM
I never cared much for Joseph Conrad. I tried Anne Rice, I really really tried, but it didn't work out.

HeatMiser
01-11-2003, 12:43 AM
William Burroughs for me.

It's stylistically interesting, sure, but I can't find the genius in his paranoid, dope-addled prattlings about mirrors and tape recorders.

Maybe I need to read more, I haven't given him much of a shot.

BlackKnight
01-11-2003, 01:09 AM
Yet another vote for Henry James. Er, well, actually I don't really want to like him. After reading the first line of one of his short stories a total of ten times and still not understanding even slightly what it was trying to say, I came to the conclusion that the man simply - cannot - write.

Flutterby
01-11-2003, 01:10 AM
I'm with Orange Skinner on Tolkien. I like his books, I loved the Hobbit when I was a kid, but now I am just trying to get through RotK before the next movie comes out. Maybe I just need to go back and re-read it from the beginning, I know some books that I hated the first time around but I 'got' the second time around.

Phillip Pullman. I read the whole His Dark Materials series, and I really did like it. But something about it put my teeth on edge. I read the whole thing because I just couldn't put it down but after I was like.. What???

Anne Rice: I love the movie Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned.. but I could never get through it. Maybe if I tried reading Queen..? I do love her sister's books though. Alice Borchardt. (Unless I'm just duped and they actually are Anne's only under a pen name :p)

Robert Jordan: I'm sorry but no matter what anyone says, though his books are OK, I can't stand them. They drive me up the wall. I'm still trying to finish The Great Hunt as my roomie insists I must read them all.

crinklebat
01-11-2003, 01:12 AM
Terry Pratchett. I know I should like him. I know he's clever. I really do enjoy his books--once I'm not reading them any more. His prose style just lacks something that I need. It drives me mad. I've read five or six of his books and I just can't get them to take.

cadolphin
01-11-2003, 01:23 AM
James Michener....

I've tried...really I have.

Winston Bongo
01-11-2003, 09:18 AM
Originally posted by Zsofia
I very much want to like Kurt Vonnegut. Everybody I know does. He spoke at my college graduation. And I can appreciate his books. I get it, you know. But I just don't like them. There's a quality in there that sits so wrong with me, some part of tone or reasoning that irritates me but that I can't put my finger on.

Zsofia, you took the words right out of my mouth; I knew there was someone else besides Pynchon that fell into this category.

The problem I have with Vonnegutt is that he's kind of a one trick pony -- all his books can be fairly easily summarized as: "Life sucks, and we can't do anything about it because we're all just biological automatons hard-wired to screw up." This may or may not be true, but I tire of slogging through entire books to hear the same thing over and over and over . . .

BTW, note to Triss: Pynchon didn't write House of the Seven Gables -- Hawthorne did. You were probably confusing the author with the characters. Pynchon wrote Gravity's Rainbow, V., etc.

Personally, I like Hawthorne. :D

KidCharlemagne
01-11-2003, 10:16 AM
Faulkner because of his writing style.

abatha
01-11-2003, 10:56 AM
ray bradbury. Farenheit 451 is a classic, but i just can't stand THAT or anything else he's writtten.

and douglas addams...because my friends absolutely WORSHIP him, but frankly i think the whole "hitchhiker's guide" series is disjointed, episodic, plot-less, and only semi-amusing.

maybe i just don't like sci-fi.

TwungTister
01-11-2003, 01:40 PM
Cecil.

Piers Anthony.

Stephen King.

Lynn Margulis.

I misread at first as actors. Squint Eastwood.

Smeghead
01-11-2003, 02:57 PM
Larry Niven. Supposedly one of the true greats of scifi, but I find him almost unreadable. Sure, he comes up with some interesting ideas for unusual settings or planets or what have you, but he's annoying gleeful in his own inventiveness, and, quite frankly, he's so bad at describing his oh-so-clever settings that I end up unable to follow much of the plot. Of course, the plot is a minor component of his books, but still.

teela brown
01-11-2003, 06:05 PM
Charles Bukowski. Mr. Pug is a big Bukowski fan, and has collected all of his books. I've tried to read him, and I acknowledge that he is a skilled writer and good at describing gritty reality, but I just don't like him. It seems like the point of all his stories is that there is some kind of moral superiority to being an alcoholic misanthrope. Yuck.

TV time
01-11-2003, 07:55 PM
I really want to contribute to this thread (it's one of the literary ones, and that alone makes me want to contribute)--but I am hard pressed to come up with a notable author I don't like...I am such a book slut.

OK, OK, Dean Koontz - although I don't really dislike his work. It's just that I feel that once I have read about three of them, the rest are kind of repetitive. I suppose I would say the same about Grisham.

And maybe Thomas Pynchon - but I do enjoy the way he uses words. It's just that I don't find he ever gets any where I find interesting.

Wait a minute....I've got one: Kinky Freidman. I have bought four of his books and never managed to finish or enjoy one. I want to. I truly do...The discription on the dust jackets or on the backs of the books sound so great, but I just can't get through them.

TV

AuntiePam
01-11-2003, 08:11 PM
Cormac McCarthy -- he was a favorite for awhile, but lately it's been a chore to read him. I think he's writing just for himself.

pepperlandgirl
01-11-2003, 08:16 PM
I have a feeling I should like Jane Austin....but I really, really don't.

Thomas Pynchon (if he's the one that wrote House of the Seven Gables)


I'm pretty sure Hawthorne write that.

Rubystreak
01-12-2003, 12:22 AM
As an English teacher, I hang my head in shame as I admit that I have tried hard and failed to like:

James Joyce: Sometimes I think he was just having us all on
Ernest Hemingway: The machismo can be awfully repellent
Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Like nails on a chalkboard
Herman Melville: I am still trying to like him. Someday I WILL get through Moby Dick, if it kills me
Ezra Pound: Give me TS Eliot any day
Henril Ibsen: The Dollhouse seems especially corny to me

However, I love William Faulkner with a burning passion, so that should count for something.

Wumpus
01-12-2003, 01:21 AM
James Joyce. Tremendously talented, great stylist, revolutionary, etc. etc. But except for some of Dubliners and smallish bits of Ulysses, I don't actually *like* him.

Miller
01-12-2003, 01:21 AM
I confess to a certain amount of smug, self-satisfied pleasure at the number of authors other people have listed that I love. "Couldn't handle Melville, eh? Amateur." :D

However, I do want to put up a third vote for "Father Kurt." I'll grant that there's something to him that I'm just not getting. Too many people whose opinions I respect like him for me to dismiss him out of hand. But to me, he's just this pedantic, lecturing asshole who's not half as clever as he pretends to be.

Also, I'd like to amend Obsidian Flutterby's nomination of Robert Jordan. There's nothing wrong with disliking Robert Jordan. He's a legitimatly awful writer. Feel free to look down your nose on Jordan fans and sniff disdainfully.

greenphan
01-12-2003, 01:36 AM
Michael Chabon. I read all of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and every other page I would tell myself "it won a pulitzer prize; it's going to get good at some point." It never did. I tried reading Wonder Boys (loved the movie) but his prose is just so staid and dry and god-awful. Incredibly boring.

I have to go with Emily Dickinson on this one, too. I mean, yeah, being a reclusive spinister will leave you little melodramatic but it wont' neccesarily make you a good poet.

--greenphan

Fiat Lux
01-12-2003, 09:04 AM
Originally posted by astorian
Conservative? Now, THERE'S an adjective I bet the unabashed socialist Chesterton never expected to be tarred with!

Well, just briefly OT: a note on politics and writing. Yes, I am fairly ultra-liberal and disagree strongly with Chesterton's ultra-conservatism. But it's his tone, not his politics that annoys me so. I find Iain Banks' smug liberalism just as annoying (oh, yes, put him down on the list of authors I'd like to like too ;)).

Back on topic: Twungtister; why do you want to like Piers Anthony? Almost everyone over the age of fourteen dislikes him.

twickster
01-12-2003, 10:21 AM
I'll second greenphan's vote for Emily Dickinson -- all those freakin' dashes -- they annoy the hell out of me -- really.

Triss
01-12-2003, 12:03 PM
Originally posted by me

Thomas Pynchon (if he's the one that wrote House of the Seven Gables)


Posted in reply by Pepperlandgirl

I'm pretty sure Hawthorne write that.

I stand corrected. :)

TwungTister
01-12-2003, 02:15 PM
Fiat Lux: Oh, we have to answer that way exactly?

I assumed everyone gives a respectful nod to any book written as sci-fi. I want to give a respectful nod to an author in the sci fi genre, but his stuck up attitude....

"You can't edit my books, 'cause you're not able to write as good as I am."

TwungTister
01-12-2003, 02:15 PM
Fiat Lux: Oh, we have to answer that way exactly?

I assumed everyone gives a respectful nod to any book written as sci-fi. I want to give a respectful nod to an author in the sci fi genre, but his stuck up attitude....

"You can't edit my books, 'cause you're not able to write as good as I am."

TwungTister
01-12-2003, 02:19 PM
Fiat Lux: Oh, we have to answer that way exactly?

I assumed everyone gives a respectful nod to any book written as sci-fi. I want to give a respectful nod to an author in the sci fi genre, but his stuck up attitude....

"You can't edit my books, 'cause you're not able to write as well as I can."

TwungTister
01-12-2003, 02:19 PM
Fiat Lux: Oh, we have to answer that way exactly?

I assumed everyone gives a respectful nod to any book written as sci-fi. I want to give a respectful nod to an author in the sci fi genre, but his stuck up attitude....

"You can't edit my books, 'cause you're not able to write as well as I can."

Ben
01-12-2003, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by GoldenGael

I have read Turn of the Screw four times, and I still don't get what is going on -- I still don't understand what happens the the end of the story.

My wife used to teach TotS in her lit class. At one point she wrote a sentence from the book on the board, and asked the students to tell her what it meant. None of them could understand what James was trying to say, and neither could she.

I have to agree with Wells' opinion of James: his prose is reminiscent of a hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea.

Personally, I'd like to like Haruki Murakami, but for all that he's supposed to be wacky and innovative and so forth, he just doesn't resonate with me.

I like some of Chesterton's work, but I find that he suffers from C. S. Lewis syndrome. He seems to think that everyone who disagrees with him is an idiot, and if he can't prove that, then it's ok to just settle the issue by brute force. (In fact, much as I enjoy Lewis, I'm a little frightened whenever his Christian characters deal with opposition through a combination of stubbornness and violence.)

Ben
01-12-2003, 02:44 PM
While I loved _Moby Dick_, I must say that Melville's style often strikes me as being a little... fruity. I don't mean homosexual, necessarily. More like sticking your head in a bag of banannas that are just a tad too ripe, and taking a deep whiff.

Is it just me, or is Melville a little reminiscent of the SNL skit in which two 18th-century dandies are running an antiques shop?

"O ho ho! You won't be taking *my* Billy Budd!"

"Oh, but I will be taking your Billy Budd!"

"Oh, dearie me! Oh, you shall not! Not my Billy Budd!"

GCU Stout Heart
01-12-2003, 03:21 PM
Stephen Fry's novels. I love Stephen Fry: I love his autobiography, his journalism, I love him in Jeeves and Wooster, whenever I see him on TV he comes across as intelligent and kind and immensely likeable. Which is why it pained me so much to find that I hated his fiction: The Liar, The Hippopotamus, Making History, The Star's Tennis Balls... didn't like a single one. But I have such respect for him that I'm willing to assume it's just that they're too clever for me!

(Strange, it's just occurred to me that I had a similar disappointment with Clive James. After reading and enjoying his autobiographies, volumes of TV criticism and literary essays, I was stunned to read his novel "Brrm, Brrrm" and discover I hated it. )

Daowajan
01-12-2003, 08:12 PM
For the past couple of years, I've been hearing all about how Chuck Palahnuik is a total genius who's doing all this incredibly creative and innovative stuff. I started reading Invisible Monsters, and I'm hating every page of it. Some of the concepts he throws in every once in a while are pretty amazing, but I can't stomach anything else about this book. Am I reading an anomaly, or is all his stuff like this?

I've tried to read Tolkien before, but I've never lasted more than 80 pages or so. Bleah.

Also, I've been told I should like Jane Austen, but I don't.

HPL
01-12-2003, 08:12 PM
Originally posted by Sampiro

Hermann Melville- I think I might have come to like Moby Dick if it hadn't been ruined for me by a lit professor who sees symbolism and depth in everything from the ISBN to the numerology of the page numbers.

I would have liked it more if a third the book wasn't about whales.

I mean, the stuff about the whaling industry/town/ship was facinating, and I rather enjoyed the bits about ahab and his obsession.

But really, I am not THAT interested in every minor little detail about whales. This is not an Alien Life form you are talking about that is relativly unknown, and thus, more deserving of hundreds of pages of explanation(though it was written in the 19th century, so maybe it was considered alien at the time) THIS IS A FRICKEN WHALE!

Or maybe it's just that whales aren't something I really find interesting.

Flutterby
01-12-2003, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by Miller
Also, I'd like to amend Obsidian Flutterby's nomination of Robert Jordan. There's nothing wrong with disliking Robert Jordan. He's a legitimatly awful writer. Feel free to look down your nose on Jordan fans and sniff disdainfully.

Thank you. I kept wondering why people I know go nuts over his books (my roomie especially, he is dying to buy the latest one and will in the coming week as he gets paid). I personally don't see the allure of him.

BadBaby
01-12-2003, 10:02 PM
Not that you asked for my reasons (I blame the caffeine for making me pushy), but here you go.
Henry James, who should be stopped even if he IS dead. He may be a good writer, but that don't make him a good read.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, because the Scarlet Letter etc. is such a big So What? and it's time he was put away.
Anne Rice, she just bugs me and I get tired of people having kittens over her work and then looking at me like I have a second head growing out of my neck when I say I don't like her writing.
That Harry Potter chick; I was all set to have fun and then found that so many other SF/Fantasy writers put her to shame inventiveness-wise (and they should have gotten movie deals and fame and fortune first).
John Grisham The Client was a waste of time and I'm still ashamed I read three more of his books before I could make myself stop reading him.
Stephen King because it's pretty much just the same idea/book over and over these days. I suspect he can do better, so I've sent him to the corner to think about what he's done, naughty boy.
Raoul Dahl because his stuff is so very creepy.

Hmmm, half of what I've just written is only remotely on-topic and the rest doesn't make sense. If you'll forgive me, I promise not to post again until the caffeine is out of my system.

Slithy Tove
01-13-2003, 11:59 AM
About a year or so ago Harpers and the New York Times were gushing over a new translation of Issac Babel's short stories, most of which were about his experiences in the Russian-Polish War of 1921. The book was good, but unfortunately for Babel, I'd recently read the Civil War Stories of Ambrose Bierce. Bierce had excelled Babel with the same theme, but his book was more obscure.


The same thing happened when Tom Wolfe came out the "Bonfire of the Vanities," fanfared as giving us the panapoly of 1980's New York City much as Thackery had done for Regency England in "Vanity Fair." Not being a New Yorker, I would have been gullible to this claim exept that, again by coincidence, I had recently read "Table Money" by Jimmy Breslin, which narrowed the focus to the city's sand hogs. This convinced me that Wolfe's familiarity with New Yorkers is limited to the ones who have doormen on their Christmas gift lists. Some panapoly.

Maybe its not any author I don't like, just the blatherskite book reviewers.

Kn*ckers
01-13-2003, 12:37 PM
Jane Austin bores the living hell out of me. I like Victorian fiction - I enjoy Dickens, Eliot, the Brontes, and so on. So, going by genre, I should like Austin. But her characters are too self-absorbed to be likeable, and her prose seems to get all drawn out, so that if there ever was a plot, I've forgotten what it was by the time I get to the end of a paragraph.

I really wanted to like Tolkien, but I got about 40 pages into The Hobbit and decided it wasn't very promising if the only thing I liked was how Gollum talked.

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