Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Shittiest Books I've Ever Read

Hello, My Name Is Scrambled Eggs
by Jamie Gilson.

In grade school, there were plenty of things that I loved: Drawing comics, improvising dirty song lyrics, swinging as high as I can on the swings and then leaping off to see how far I could go, overflowing the school toilets with the dodge balls, and watching cartoons. There were also a ton of things that I hated with the kind of passion that you only see in old film clips of Hitler, where you can feel the frown miles away from the epicenter. Those include my cunt teacher Mrs. Barnes, that gigantic double-pole that I was afraid to slide down called "The Big A," this fat Mexican piece of shit named Horatio, and a little book called "Hello, My Name Is Scrambled Eggs." I remember little about the plot, except that it involves a Vietnamese student, some douche bag American kid who hangs out with him, and wacky misadventures which even then seemed implausible. Imagine a child holding a paperback, his hands shaking in anger, and using all of his power not to snarl "BULLSHIT!!!" while reading, and you'll get an idea as to my reaction to this book. Even that faggy essential "The Secret Garden" was more enjoyable to me at the time. I believe this was the first time I ever hated a book, and wished serious harm to the characters, the author, and my teacher for making us read it. It took the Fudge series, "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," and "Runaway Ralph" to make me not hate reading again.

A Separate Peace
by John Knowles.

Freshman year. I had already been forced to read multiple volumes of sub-par material, and by then was fully aware of my erections and desire to stick them in the opposite sex. We read Shakespeare, and I was wondering if my familiarity with a poetic genius would somehow help me score some tail, especially with this short, slightly-mannish girl I befriended. Going over that difficult Shakespearian English didn't bother me. It just seemed so far removed from me that I couldn't feel moved either way. Then, the teacher busted out a novel which dealt with teens. Finally something I could relate to! Unfortunately, it was "A Separate Peace," a title which I frequently add the words "of shit" to the end of. Once again, I have no recollection of the plot, except that it was bullshit and I didn't give a fuck what was going on because the characters were crappy little assholes. Reading that book was like sticking red ants in my dickhole. We even watched the film afterwards, which proved that if you're given a turd to work with, all the sculpting in the world isn't gonna make it desirable.

Women
by Charles Bukowski.

If one man proved to me beyond any doubt that chicks don't really give a fuck WHAT you look like and will take your cock as long as you aren't a complete social retard, it was Bukowski. Years back someone wondered what looked worse, his liver or his face, and I'll have to say it was probably the latter. Reading this book is like sitting down and listening to the ugliest, funniest, and most bitter friend in your group drunkenly brag about all the hot tail he's scored, then fall back into a puddle of tears because of how lonely he is. Boo hoo. Yeah Chuck, it's really hard to feel bad for you when you describe in detail about some chick you were with who looked exactly like Katherine Hepburn, and who sucked you off and let you cum in her mouth, but you know, she wasn't as great as this old psychopath who you were in love with and who's dead now. This book is one of the most tedious reads I've ever gone through, and it's basically just one sex story after another, with a few sob stories sprinkled in for your sympathy. This is also the very first book that I threw away from me in frustration. I was reading it in the hallway at Mt. Sac, and it seemed like it was going in a good direction. Then BAM, another sex scene. I felt tricked, betrayed, and cheated out of the Bukowski who I knew and loved from "Ham on Rye" and "Post Office." So I threw the book at the wall. Fuck him. I'm glad he's dead.

Ishmael
by Daniel Quinn.

A few years back I hung out with a beautiful friend at Hotel Figueroa. We talked about linguistics, politics, literature, all the finer things in life. I told her that I wanted to read some newer books, and she recommended a bunch of them, one of them being "Ishmael." I requested the book from my library and when it came in I was excited. It was like my own private book club, and I was thrilled at the discussion I would soon be having. Then I read the book. You people know my tastes, and the more absurd something is, the more I tend to enjoy it. This fucking book did something which was impossible: It made a story about a gorilla who telepathically delivers philosophy to an eager student BORING. Not only that, this was hands-down the most poorly written book I had ever seen in my life (until I started reading e-books). The plot was fucking weak, the literary equivalent of wet toilet paper. That dumb-ass gorilla would act out of character at odd moments, the narrator was a douche that NOBODY could like, and the philosophy was that same-old "we need to go back to being hunters and gathers" crap that would embarrass anyone who wasn't a high school vegan. I was actually relieved when the stupid gorilla died at the end. Anyhow, I'm still friends with the gal who recommended this book, and I think she's an absolute doll. But this book was shit. Needless to say, I didn't read the sequel.

Survivor
by Chuck Palahniuk.

Chuck Palahniuk is the reason why I stopped reading new fiction. I read "Fight Club" years ago and liked it. Then I read Chapter One of "Choke," and decided that if this is how books are written nowadays, I'm throwing in the towel. After my friend made me feel like a jackass for having this opinion, I decided to read nothing but new fiction, starting with Chuck's books. As it turns out, "Choke" was actually pretty OK. "Fight Club" wasn't as good as I remembered. But man oh man...then I read "Survivor." How the fuck did this get published? This is one of those books where I can safely say that if "Fight Club" had never been made into a movie, this piece of shit book would not exist. It is actually two books, the first half being a shitty character study of some loser asshole who belonged to a religious cult, the second half being a shitty character study of some loser asshole who becomes a famous televangelist. It was also written in a gimmicky fashion, with the chapters and page numbers going in reverse, and a climax that nobody would give a shit about since he TELLS YOU WHAT HAPPENS at the beginning of the book. It is also jammed-packed with filler. Page after page of pointless facts, trying to push two dumb novella-length stories into a novel.

How to write a Chuck Palahniuk book:

Reveal the ending at the beginning of the book.
Have a couple phrases or ideas repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over throughout the book; for example, "I am Chuck's lack of talent." and " 'Trite' isn't the word I'm looking for, but it's the first one that comes to mind."
Hammer away at the idea of how shallow popular culture is.
Hammer away at the fact that men aren't really men anymore.
Have a main character who nobody could like, but you know, we're SUPPOSED to like him because of that whorey-old pseudo-reasoning, "at least he admits he's an asshole."
Have some gigantic twist at the end that even The Hardy Boys wouldn't give two shits about.
Have utter contempt for the reader.
Repeat until Hollywood takes notice.

As a lover of literature, I feel compelled to warn readers of shit when I step in it. Out of all the books mentioned, only Bukowski achieved any kind of greatness, but that was with two novels and a handful of poems. He's even more hit and miss than Tim Burton. It takes me a long, LONG time to find writers who I love, and I did add Irvine Welsh to this exclusive club this year, but only after plowing through several other pieces of shit by other modern writers. Books are an investment. You spend a lot of time with them. It's not a movie, which takes a couple hours, or an album, which takes one. You live with a book for days, weeks, even months. With everything so fast-paced today you don't want to waste your time on garbage. So please, avoid these books. You'll thank me for it later.

1 comment:

├sofía┴┬┤ said...

The more you tell people to avoid anything the more they want to go against you and take it on. To a degree, I can respect that. Keeping on topic, I think that your advisement was shot off with lack of self-consideration, since you my friend, are one of those people who, no matter how many obvious clichéd warnings apply, seems to always be touchin’ hot-ass stoves.
Now, I’ll admit it, I’m infamous for quitting in the middle of most books or even lie about finishing them (i.e. in 1989 it was Ramona and Her Father), with no rhyme or reason (the reason in ’89 being Book-it pizza coupons), because; for example, "I am Chuck's lack of concentration." And” 'Asshole' isn't the word I'm looking for, but it's the first one that comes to mind."
Regardless as to how shitty these books are (and my sorry need for social acceptance), I’ll buy a beer and/or fries to anyone who finishes them (including you, Roland). If people end up liking them, well, that’s a whole other story. Well, not really. I just like the way “whole other story” comes off as a punningly lame way end to anything written.

Your oozing mad ways are comin‘ out.
You best believe, I love it!