The Books of My Numberless Dreams

“Are you having a laugh?”*

Posted on: July 19, 2008

This won’t be the most edifying post you’ve ever read here but I saw a similar bit at Sterne and decided I’d share some Amazon one/two star reviews on some of the books I read this year. It’s less about the book in question than the reason the book got trashed…

Persuasion by Jane Austen

2.0 out of 5 stars Such a huge disappointment., January 16, 2008

When I saw Masterpiece Theater was doing a series on Jane Austen and her novels, I decided to read them in the order the shows would air–starting with Persuasion. It was the first and last of Austen’s that I will read. She may well have captured the mores and social rules of the time, but she didn’t create characters I could really care about. I stuck with it to the end and found the revelations about Mr. Elliot to come out of nowhere and the ending romance to be something we could see coming from the very start. I’ll take Edith Wharton over Austen any day.

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

1.0 out of 5 stars Superlatives apply., April 10, 2001

What I mean by this is that affixing the title of “Worst book ever” to The Stone Angel is not a stretch. I have read some truly bad novels in my time, but The Stone Angel is simply horrifying. Never has there been a more repulsive character than Hagar, a neurotic, arrogant, despicable old woman. The book is told in a series of intermittent flashbacks that seem pointless in conjunction with Hagar’s current situation (which is that her family wants to put her in a nursing home).At first I was mildly interested by the florid writing style, but the book soon made me numb (it actually caused me physical pain). The reason for this is that the main character of The Stone Angel’s story is the most repulsive fictional creation I’ve ever beheld. Hagar’s bloated idiocy renders her ineffably repellent after just a few chapters. Being 90 years old, her thoughts and dialogue are completely separated from reason, destroying any interest a person could have in the progress of the story. Her flashbacks further reinforce her overweening nature. I suppose this book has merit if you wish to enter the mind of a 90-year old arrogant woman whose logical faculties have been shattered, but who really wants to read about that? Sure it’s believable (for which some reviews have credited it), but why on earth does anyone care about a cantankerous old hag with bowel problems? Talk about the ultimate anti-hero!

[…]

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd.

2.0 out of 5 stars Very well done … but somehow lacking, September 29, 2005

Let me first say that it’s a well-written, fascinating, literate piece of work. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Then again, afterwards you’re left with a sort of empty feeling. Because where did those horrors Moore alludes to come from? And the answer is: from the beliefs that Moore espouses!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. In the scene where he broadcasts a message via a TV station, he plainly states that we are just animals, fresh off the tree. And this was the exact view that Hitler, for one, used to justify his campaign of killing the unwanted: the old, the infirm, the mentally ill, gays, Jews. As Bethell writes:

“During the period of American neutrality in World War I, Kellogg was posted to the headquarters of the German general staff and was shocked to find German military leaders, sometimes with the Kaiser present, supporting the war with an “evolutionary rationale.” They did so with “a particularly crude form of natural selection, defined as inexorable, bloody battle. …
[…]
“You like Darwin?” The German intellectuals were saying. “We’ll give you Darwin.” (end quote)

*I’ve been watching all of Extras these days.

2 Responses to "“Are you having a laugh?”*"

Oh dear god! What a review of Persuasion!! To complain about Austen being predictable!! lmao

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