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Old 09-22-2019, 03:28 PM
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What famous works of fiction, popular with readers and critics both, do you not care for?


I've read a lot of fiction, some of it considered to be literature, some of it popular with the masses, and some of it both of those. I've liked a lot of it, but there's a lot I just never found real interesting, or real good. My fails (whether it's my failing or the author's, I make no judgement, as I've undoubtedly given short shrift to some accomplished works due to inattention, bad mood, or disinterest in the topic/style) are listed below. List yours!

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. The protagonist just seemed like a dick.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sort of an interesting read, but I can't say I found it worthy of its acclaim.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Kids can be jerks. Got it.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. Overly complex for my tastes. And I thought I liked complex stuff . . .

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. The fantasy world too comic, the allegory too heavy-handed for my tastes.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Let it go already, Old Man! That way, the author can go off and fatally pester some bulls or something.
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:31 PM
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Not a fan of Catcher either.
Confederacy of Dunces usually tops my list in this sort of exercise. I get it - the protagonist is loathsome. And why am I supposed to want to read about him?
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:35 PM
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I read "The Handmaid's Tale" not long after it came out, and I didn't see what all the acclaim was, either. It was a badly written story about a dystopian society where the "victims" were unlikable regardless of what they had been through.

(dons flameproof suit)

I also tried to read "A Wrinkle in Time" when I was a kid, and couldn't get into it. I tried to read it a few years ago; nope, same thing.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 09-22-2019 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:48 PM
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I loved Of Human Bondage, The Great Gatsby, and A Confederacy of Dunces. But I've never, ever liked anything from Faulkner.
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:53 PM
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I'd love to see a Lord of the Flies remake with today's American kids. They would all be freaking out that their smartphones don't have an internet connection and be totally clueless with even rudimentary survival skills.

Also I find the Catcher in the Rye to be a chore to read and I don't relate the main character at all. Even when I was his age.
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:01 PM
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Don't see the affection for Catch 22. I literally threw it away halfway through. Movie sucked, too, for the same reasons.

There isn't much else I don't "get" as much as I don't get that. OK, maybe XKCD.
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:05 PM
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I'd love to see a Lord of the Flies remake with today's American kids. They would all be freaking out that their smartphones don't have an internet connection and be totally clueless with even rudimentary survival skills.
...
Why specifically American kids? Don't they have smartphones in Japan and Australia and France too?
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:09 PM
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Lord of the Rings. I purchased a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring midway through a sea voyage way back in the Summer of '04. It was during a brief stop over in England. Two weeks later I was home, still with fifty pages to go, and it had been a slog to get there even in the confined conditions. I made several abortive attempts to finish it over the following four years, but only succeeded in reading another 25 pages. I just couldnít bring myself to care, about the characters, about the plot, even about the literary craftsmanship (or the lack of it). It was a total snooze.
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:17 PM
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Harry Potter anything.
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:56 PM
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Yeah, every Tolkien movie/book puts me to sleep, and fantasy is a category I usually love.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:21 PM
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Anna Karenina, which I had to read in college. Why this piece of dreck is considered a work of art is beyond me. I hated each and every character in it and was delighted when the airheaded twat threw herself under the train at the end.

I too have never particularly cared for the works of F Scott Fitzgerald, and I also find Tolkien to be incredibly boring. The only thing more tedious than reading Lord of the Rings was having to sit through the first movie.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:57 PM
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I've never understood the attraction of The Little Prince either. I've had two girlfriends who wanted to give me a copy (one in English and one in German), but they (thankfully, I guess) never got around to it.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:09 PM
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Dune. All talk, and the action all occurs "off-screen" so to speak. I read it in my early twenties, and whenever I told anyone I didn't care for it, they said Oh, you were too young; read it again. So I read it again in my late thirties. Still didn't like it.

Interview with the Vampire. Maybe if I could have read it without picturing Tom Cruise I could have finished it.

And don't get me started on Moby Dick.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:13 PM
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Yeah, every Tolkien movie/book puts me to sleep, and fantasy is a category I usually love.
Yes, Tolkien! He would spend seven pages describing the toenail fungus of a minor character, that you will never hear of again.

Man just loved to hear himself write.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:20 PM
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Dhalgren - At the risk of getting all sorts of PC flak, this novel is famous because Chip is black. Cuz the novel is shit.

Tolkien - Enjoyed the movies. The slot machines are fun. The books are an unrelenting slog.

Moby Dick if masterful is you read every other chapter.

Last edited by silenus; 09-22-2019 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:25 PM
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Pretty much all of Hemingway, except for The Sun Also Rises and some of the short stories, which are pretty cool. Hem was a master of self-promotion. He spent more time on that than his writing.

Dashiell Hammett was doing the same thing at the same time, and doing it better. Unfortunately, he made a ton of money off The Thin Man, and quit writing in favor of drinking.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:28 PM
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Dashiell Hammett was doing the same thing at the same time, and doing it better. Unfortunately, he made a ton of money off The Thin Man, and quit writing in favor of drinking.
Wouldn't you?
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:30 PM
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The entire reading list for high school and English Lit 101 in college. Catcher, Flies, Wuthering Fucking Heights; just kill me now.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:36 PM
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Pretty much all of Hemingway, except for The Sun Also Rises and some of the short stories, which are pretty cool. Hem was a master of self-promotion. He spent more time on that than his writing.
After reading a number of his works just because I thought I should, I'm convinced his sole aim was to ensure generations of American literature students would be perpetually bored.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:42 PM
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I read The Three Musketeers a few years ago -- in part because I'd enjoyed various movie adaptations, and in part because I decided that I wanted to expand my horizons, and read some classic literature.

It was...OK. I struggled with some of the names and references, but mostly what I remember being surprised about (and not in a good way) was how much of the book revolved around the heroes worrying about how much (or, more precisely, how little) money they had, and coming up with schemes to make money.

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Old 09-22-2019, 06:55 PM
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I tried to read Journey to the Center of the Earth, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, sorry Jules Verne, you suck H.G. Wells is so much better and more prescient of the future.

I quite enjoyed The Hobbit and made it like a book and a half into the Lord of the Rings trilogy or book or whatever I don't remember.

I know The Hobbit was more of a children's book, but damnit it was entertaining. I couldn't take all the random songs when someone stubs their toe or takes a shit in the Lord of the Rings books! Too much fucking singing!!!!
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:07 PM
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Count me among those unimpressed by Salinger's most famous piece. Read it in HS and my reaction was: "huh... big f'n deal".
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:22 PM
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Dune. All talk, and the action all occurs "off-screen" so to speak. I read it in my early twenties, and whenever I told anyone I didn't care for it, they said Oh, you were too young; read it again. So I read it again in my late thirties. Still didn't like it.
This is what I came in to say. I tried reading it twice and put it down out of boredom, and the third time (in my 30s) I forced myself to finish it. I can't understand, at all, what all the fuss is about.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:26 PM
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Another vote against Catcher in the Rye. Seriously, dude. Don't be so self-obsessed.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:39 PM
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A dear friend (a college reading teacher, yet) loathes Shakespeare.
And has paragraphs of insightful reasons why.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:39 PM
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Wouldn't you?
Iím doing it right now.
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  #27  
Old 09-22-2019, 07:45 PM
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Not a book, but Citizen Kane bores the crap outta me.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:47 PM
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I tried to read Journey to the Center of the Earth, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, sorry Jules Verne, you suck H.G. Wells is so much better and more prescient of the future.
Yes, Wells is much more entertaining. But I read through tons of Verne as an adolescent and adored it. Make sure you get the later un-Bowlderized translations (the early English versions stayed in print forever and should all be burned).

Get hold of some of the lesser known novels....Doctor Oxís Experiment, Robur the Conqueror, The Steam House, Hector Servadac, The Begumís Fortune....they are a helluva lot of fun. Around the World in Eighty Days is very good, too.

I also love The Great Gatsby and Moby-Dick, but I shouldnít second-guess other folksís opinions here. Any more.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:53 PM
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as a kid, I couldn't stand Roald dahl or Beverly clearly........or 90 percent of the "writers for kids"
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:57 PM
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Shakespeare sucks. Roald Dahl sucks. Catcher in the Rye was shite.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-22-2019 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:09 PM
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Catcher in the Rye

A Separate Peace

Gaslight

The Manchurian Candidate

Lord of the Flies

Tom Sawyer

(and I really like most of Twain's works)

I LIKE the works of Jules Verne, and have been working my way through them for several years now.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:22 PM
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The King James Bible.

I had daily readings from it as a schoolboy, and I studied it as literature under literary theorist, literary critic and ordained minister Northrop Frye. I recognize the skill of the translators, and I appreciate the phrasing of some of the passages, but quite simply, I find it abhorrent because it was and is taught as truth to generations of people. Even now, the head of state of my country is the head of the church that commissioned this book, and it is still being preached as being truth. I'm for using fiction, including speculative fiction such as the Bible, to open up minds -- not to be taken as universal truth to be followed in obedience to the people who commissioned it.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:24 PM
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The King James Bible.

I had daily readings from it as a schoolboy, and I studied it as literature under literary theorist, literary critic and ordained minister Northrop Frye. I recognize the skill of the translators, and I appreciate the phrasing of some of the passages, but quite simply, I find it abhorrent because it was and is taught as truth to generations of people. Even now, the head of state of my country is the head of the church that commissioned this book, and it is still being preached as being truth. I'm for using fiction, including speculative fiction such as the Bible, to open up minds -- not to be taken as universal truth to be followed in obedience to the people who commissioned it.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:27 PM
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I read The Three Musketeers a few years ago -- in part because I'd enjoyed various movie adaptations, and in part because I decided that I wanted to expand my horizons, and read some classic literature.

It was...OK.
Ohhhhh! That reminds me, now that you bring up a 19th century classic, I absolutely hated Last of the Mohicans. The protagonist was a bore and the writing was clunky. I vaguely recall a chapter beginning with something like words very close to "Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest." Who writes like that?

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 09-22-2019 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Syntax, explanation
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:32 PM
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I actually liked a lot of what we read in high school, with the exception of Gatsby. I'm from Long Island originally, and I had the same reaction to Gatsby as I did to Seinfeld - I grew up around some of these people and they weren't funny or interesting, they were assholes.

I made very good faith efforts with Moby Dick and Don Quixote, ended up putting them down. But for shear awfulness you can't beat Last of the Mohicans. Utterly impenetrable and unreadable.

Edit: Ooh, scooped at the last second!

Last edited by Llama Llogophile; 09-22-2019 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:45 PM
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CalMeacham:. Really? What didnít you like about The Manchurian Candidate? I thought it was better than the movie (the first movie), and I LOVE the movie.
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:11 PM
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I loathed Tom Jones (which I never finished) and barely made it through Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The few things I've read by Hemingway have not enticed me to read further.
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:17 PM
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I loathed Tom Jones (which I never finished) and barely made it through Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The few things I've read by Hemingway have not enticed me to read further.
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:58 PM
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If I can wander out of fine literature to more pop-oriented stuff...

Crisis on Infinite Earths from DC is simply terribly written. Horrible dialogue and plotting just ruin the thing for me.
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Old 09-22-2019, 10:22 PM
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I'll chime in for Lord of the Rings, and I made myself read it all. Only good part was imagining Sam and Frodo in a sub/dom relationship. It better explains Sam's jealousy of Frodo giving Gollum any attention, even when berating or beating him.

Recent one I read is Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ichibod and Van Brunt are both detestable in their own ways, Katrina flitters to anyone who gives her attention, and the only way I could have enjoyed the story was if no one came out ahead. Thankfully it had the decency to be short.
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Old 09-23-2019, 12:45 AM
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I've always loved Neil Gaiman's comics. I'm on the fence about his novels, especially the ones that (A) he did with Terry Pratchett or (B) are intended for children. There's a great literary tradition of English writers talking down to younger readers, and he hasn't shaken it. I kind of love American Gods, though.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:22 AM
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Jack Kerouac's On The Road is often listed among the great book's of the 20th Century and I loved it when I read it in my 20s. A couple of years ago I read Scott Alexander's Slate Star Codex review of the book. It begins:
Quote:
Thereís a story about a TV guide that summarized The Wizard of Oz as ďTransported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.Ē

Itís funny because it mistakes a tale of wonder and adventure for a crime spree. Jack Kerouacís On the Road is the opposite; a crime spree that gets mistaken for a tale of wonder and adventure.

On The Road is a terrible book about terrible people. Kerouac and his terrible friends drive across the US about seven zillion times for no particular reason, getting in car accidents and stealing stuff and screwing women whom they promise to marry and then donít.
and then gets really scathing. What is most shocking about it is that, on reflection and attempting to reread the book, it is a perfectly fair precis of the work.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:49 AM
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I actually liked a lot of what we read in high school, with the exception of Gatsby. I'm from Long Island originally, and I had the same reaction to Gatsby as I did to Seinfeld - I grew up around some of these people and they weren't funny or interesting, they were assholes.
But you're not supposed to like the characters in The Great Gatsby. They're horrible people and Fitzgerald knew it.

My list:
Lord of the Rings. Also The Hobbit and the Silmarillion.
Game of Thrones
Heart of Darkness
Tess of the D'Urbevilles
Everything I have read by P D James
A Thousand Acres


I cheated when I read Moby Dick: I read Richard Armour's retelling/skewing of it in American Lit Relit.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:08 AM
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Jack Kerouac's On The Road is often listed among the great book's of the 20th Century and I loved it when I read it in my 20s. A couple of years ago I read Scott Alexander's Slate Star Codex review of the book. It begins:

and then gets really scathing. What is most shocking about it is that, on reflection and attempting to reread the book, it is a perfectly fair precis of the work.
I'll agree. I recently finally got around to reading On the Road, and it bothered me how these guys were having sex with women who they promised to marry, then didn't, and all the other irresponsible things they did.

Granted, they did a lot of exploration and even some good stuff, but it was hard for me to empathasize with these lazy liars.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:13 AM
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Dhalgren - At the risk of getting all sorts of PC flak, this novel is famous because Chip is black. Cuz the novel is shit..[/I]
Don't be silly. Chip was already considered on of the top writers in the genre when the book came out, a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner. Granted, Dhalgen is complex and doesn't have a conventional plot and I can understand not getting it, but it was genuinely popular with readers and critics.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:02 AM
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More votes for Catcher in the Rye and Catch 22. With Rye, I've been told I don't like it because I was in my 30's when I first read it, and had I read it in high school I would think it's amazing. I don't know, I remember what I was like in HS and I think I would have still thought Holden was a whiny bitch.

Also, I don't care for Harry Potter. It's alright, but I don't get the huge phenomenon it has become. I was probably too old to be in it's target market when it came out.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:09 AM
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Well I like Catcher in the Rye. Okay, "like" isn't the right word - the protagonist is a little shit - but I understand why it's held in high regard in many circles.

Jane Austen, however, can suck it. Fanny Burney's Evelina was far better than Austen's Emma, and was written forty years earlier. Austen's parade of stupid, simpering Regency twits all need a good slap.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:12 AM
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Don't be silly. Chip was already considered on of the top writers in the genre when the book came out, a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner. Granted, Dhalgen is complex and doesn't have a conventional plot and I can understand not getting it, but it was genuinely popular with readers and critics.
And the title of this thread is...?
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:22 AM
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But you're not supposed to like the characters in The Great Gatsby. They're horrible people and Fitzgerald knew it.
Yeah, I guess that's my problem with a bunch of the 'classics': if there's no character I can relate to, I'm not going to like the book.

My list includes:

Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
The Sun Also Rises
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
(though I like Dostoevsky generally)
Dune

What gets me about Catcher is all the crap I read about it before I read it, not just once but in abundant references over the decades, about how Holden Caulfield sees through the phoniness of blah blah blah. Then I read the book, and all he's doing is calling shit 'phony' just because. I'd like to have words with all those people who thought that Holden saw through anything more challenging than a plate-glass window, and a very clean one at that.

Dune: has any book been stuffed with characters who took themselves (and every last little hand-signal or facial expression) as overseriously as Dune? 'Terrible purpose,' my ass.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:23 AM
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Another non-fan of Gatsby and Confederacy.

Also not a fan of Gaiman in general. And the Good Omens collaboration was just ... bad.
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