Hit over the head with a book?

This is a spin-off of the “Most disturbing movie” thread. Here’s what I’d said:

Anyone else?

“Never got this hot in Brooklyn. This is like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot…I don’t know if I can stay here if it’s gonna be this hot.”
-Matthew Broderick in “Biloxi Blues”

There’s a series of books by Stephen Donaldson (the Thomas Covenant series, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder, etc.). It’s good writing, and I couldn’t put them down, but the main character rapes a girl in the first book. As you read the books, you can sort of understand, and he tries to be a good guy, but…ewww. I tore through the series, but I don’t know if I’ll ever read them again. It was disturbing; not necessarily the rape, but the sympathy.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

I really disliked the Thomas Covenant books. The main character is a leper-- as in, a person with leprosy-- and Donaldson uses this as a literary symbol in every way he can think of. Being hit over the head with symbolism is bad enough, but after the fifth time the character thought about the irony of the phrase “Leper outcast unclean,” it was more than tiresome.

The rape that Gaudere mentioned has very little effect on the story. It’s described quite tamely, and the characters involved do not show any believable emotion, so I can’t quite believe that anyone was really ‘disturbed’ by it. About all the incident did was give some depth to the main character; after that, he had almost two whole dimensions!
As for the real most disturbing book… well, I’d have to nominate my college Calculus text. You have no idea how often it kept me up at night! :wink:

Of course I don’t fit in; I’m part of a better puzzle.

I wasn’t disturbed by the rape per se; it flicked past pretty fast. I just want to sympathize and like the main character of a book (why read six books about a bastard?), and that kept getting in my way. Since I read the books about 7-8 years ago, they may be better/worse than I remember; I don’t know if I’ll bother to find out.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

I didn’t like any of “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenat the Unbeliever” I found it repulsive on many fronts. Not just the rape, the leprosy, it was just so inane… sorry but I just couldn’t get into it. I read it because my best friend loved it and I did my best to see the merit. Never did.

Books that punched me hard and I found myself caught up? “Becker’s Ring” by Steven Martin Cohen. It’s so graphic that at times I found myself almost with splayed fingers against my face to ward off the horror.

But a book that was hard to read just because the lead character gets kicked in the pants so hard so often is “Coyote Blue” by Christopher Moore. That poor bastard, what he GOES through! I found it hard to go on and hard to stop. I wanted to know but was afraid to know.

The moon looks on many flowers, the flowers on but one moon.

I found the following disturbing:

Exquisite Corpse - Poppy Z. Brite
The Damnation Game - Clive Barker

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

Classics that still deliver a punch in the gut:

A Clockwork Orange
Catcher in the Rye

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

The Lord of the Flies. We read it in high school English, which was a while back, but just thinking about it now makes me queasy.

The Cat In The Hat

I have to disagree with topolino - I HATED American Psycho! Pages and pages of boring drivel punctuated by episodes of unbelievable grotesquerie.

Does non-fiction count?

There are 2 or 3 books by FBI profiler John Douglas that I can blame for more than one sleepless night.

Well, I didn’t say I enjoyed reading it. It’s certainly not the kind of book you kick back and read for pleasure. I do think it was a powerful study in alienation. Those people were definitely alienated. The main character would go on and on about the outfit someone was wearing leaving no detail unscrutized, but he had no qualms about viciously murdering people. Also, his friends were SO alienated, steeped in social formula, and wrapped up in themselves that they didn’t even notice when he would threaten them. They’d be chattering along about the same mindless drivel they’d always talk about (their clothes, their money, other status symbols) and he’d tell them that he was going to do all sorts of horrible things to them. They’d just keep on talking about themselves.

It’s definitely disturbing if you subscribe to the theories of alienation.

Sure, non-fiction counts :). I’ve also read a couple of books by John Douglas. I THINK he has three out.

I think the most disturbing book I’ve read recently is Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley. It was incredibly dark, and cruel- and worst of all, hopeless. The only thing that kept me going with that book was the hope that things would get better.

Byzantine, you’re right about Coyote Blue – but if it’s read as humor, then it’s not quite so bad. His trickster “friend” really put him through hell, didn’t he?

The absolutely most disturbing book I’ve ever read is The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. It’s worthy of a thread all its own.

I just kept thinking “he had to have made all this up, people couldn’t be like that” – and I cut my reading teeth on Holocaust literature so I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Maybe because the story was so personal.

The other disturbing part is the pornographic effect – he couldn’t have intended some of those passages to be sexually arousing, but they were.

Made me think I was kinda sick, for a long time.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who felt like that. Please?)

Well, hell, now I want to know more about this “Painted Bird” book. Siouxsie and the Banshees did a song called “Painted Bird.” Several of their songs are based on things the members of the group had read. I wonder if it’s based on that book. Tell me more! :wink:

Hmmm… found American Psycho to be amazingly slow going, although if I ever need a reference for 80’s brand names, I’ve got a good source.

My pick would be Kathe Koja’s Skin. I doubt many of you have read it, but it was one hell of a trippy ride. I think it rewired my brain or something.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

The Handmaid’s Tale

Piers Anthony, “Bio of a Space Tyrant.”

I had all of them. I read the first one and made it to the end with the shock of watching a train wreck.

I gave them away.

AntiePam– even reading with an eye toward humor it still was hard! I loved it though. All of his books are wonderful!

PapaBear– if his freaked you out try reading “I have lived in the Monster” by Robert K. Ressler. He’s a bit full of himself but he is one of the people who developed criminal profiling.

I don’t know why but I find myself fascinated by serial killers, or rather, their minds. I always want to understand how they became the way they did.

The moon looks on many flowers, the flowers on but one moon.

I’d suggest you reread at least the first book: the rape is central to the whole series. Covenant spends most of it trying to atone, and his actions further illustrate the paradox of involvement he faces.