Saturday, June 26, 2010

Books, books, books

I like to read. I especially like to read while nursing or cuddling kids. I thought: gee, I'm having trouble blogging lately. And then I realized that blogging about my reading for a little while might help me get back into the habit, since it's easy and requires very little creativity, but friends might appreciate it nonetheless.

This week I went through, back-to-back, two of the most disparate books I've ever read. The first was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The second was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Unless the second had actually featured rainbows and unicorns, it would be hard to think of a way to put more emotional space between the two.

Let's start where I started: The Road. This book can be described in a single word, and that word is BAD. It's not just a single kind of bad, it's the kind of well-rounded totally bad that I'd be hard-pressed to put a more complicated label on. If I said it was horrible you might think I was referring to the subject matter in a kind of horrible-but-compelling way, but no, it's not. The subject matter is, granted, horrible. It is also incompletely imagined and shock-value heavy; by this I mean that there are scenes in the book that the author describes in ways that maximize the use of disturbing words and subject matter but that contain elements that do not make sense when you stop to think about them - and it's not the kind of book that is complicated that way on purpose. But let's not stop at the subject matter; the writing is also bad. Yes, I understand that our dear probably-mentally-unstable Mr. McCarthy was trying to use a writing device. It didn't work. Screw the author, it's the visionary that read this book and decided to publish it that should get an award. There's no good reason that anyone who reads with any sort of regularity should like this book. I suppose if you read something bad enough, the good stuff seems even better in comparison...but still, whoever read this complete piece of shit book (it took less than 2 hours to read, so maybe the short story category would fit better) and thought "wow, this should be printed!" and later "wow, this should be a movie" TOTALLY deserves kudos for seeing the money underneath all the crap. Yes, yes, I understand the thinking that "a good book makes you think and this book makes you think." This book makes me think about what a load of shit it was, it doesn't make me think constructive thoughts of any variety. Overall impression? Utter crap. Save your time for more pleasurable literary experiences like reading translated technical manuals.


Before I started the second book I read this week, Outlander, I looked it up online in a semi-desperate attempt (because I am not a fan of online book reviews, and now I get to laugh at myself for posting one) to avoid the disaster that selecting based on jacket reviews had caused earlier in the week. "Hard to classify," they said. Well, I have no such problem. It is a romance novel. I don't read romance novels, so you can be surprised when I say that I loved this one. I guess I liked it the way that people like Playboy for the articles or go to Hooters for the chicken wings. I read a romance novel for the phenomenal writing. Because it was, it was, it was. Thank the freaking Lord. After reading my way through the absolutely shitty writing of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and then picking up Cormac McCarthy, it's kind of a wonder I didn't give up reading altogether (aside from necessary evils like street signs, party invitations, and text messages). Thank you Diana Gabaldon. You have restored my brain's language centers to balance. And the sex was pretty good, too. Extra points for really good plot devices, not leaving holes in the story, and avoiding "movie magic" writing mistakes. Overall impression? Woohooo, requesting the sequel from the library!

I'm now reading Brave New World. Believe it or not, I've never read it before!

Future reading suggestions are welcome.

1 comment:

~L~ said...

I *LURVE* Outlander. Natch. It seems to be our group's theme book now. LOL

BTW found those books you snuck back into my van! ARGH!