PDA

View Full Version : Gripe about what you're reading~


gahitsu
03-26-2012, 02:02 PM
Man I have waited my whole life for this thread!

So, I read a lot of sci-fi, horror, and especially fantasy because I have shitty taste in books, don't judge me. Fantasy, when done well, is an amazing outlet for escapism, but it also seems to be the most bogged down of the genres with trite cliches, tropes and other bullshit shenanigans. Well, romance/erotica's probably worse, but there's probably lots of you who barely consider womance worthy of note. I hear you like sexism!

Anyhow, jeez. I'm reading L.E. Modesitt's Legacies (http://www.amazon.com/Legacies-Corean-Chronicles-Book-1/dp/0765345137/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332794049&sr=1-7), and despite the seemingly good reviews it received, it looks like this is going to be one of those books that you have to force yourself to finish. It's already displaying several problems and I'm just over a dozen pages in - Chosen One, Gary Stu Rising from Humble Agrarian Beginnings, Ancient Race That Everyone Thinks Is Dead but Still Exists to Play Fairy Godrace to Chosen One Gary Stus, etc. The gripe I'd like to bring to your attention, though, is this awful habit of lazy fantasy authors who can't figure out how to include exposition (and generally, it's exposition that isn't even particularly relevant to the narrative).

It goes something like this: Such and such kingdom/territories were very peaceful and were long held by benevolent rulers. Their neighbors, however, were Super Evil and just could not leave well enough alone to themselves and were determined to burn, rape and pillage their way through the surrounding kingdoms/whatever. Current Benevolent Ruler fought very hard but because Super Evil Ruler was just so powerful and Evil, and because Benevolent Kingdom was very peaceful and wonderful and only kept a militia barely strong enough to stave off basic bandits and suchnot, Benevolent Kingdom was overpowered and the Dark Shadow of the new Super Evil Ruling Family spread over the land. End the explanation with words such as "cataclysm", "dark times", "new era of darkness", etc.

Then, at the bottom, have a little footnote explaining that this whole explanation was a fragment from some sort of historical narration or archival bullshit, and also note that it was recovered from some ruins from the time period or the era just after. Bonus points for mentioning it's from a tower or keep and not from like, a library or an office or some place where you'd expect historical tomes to be kept.

I seriously cannot stand this crap. I seriously cannot stand it when it's meant to be a lead-in, to show that our precious GMary Stu is about to have shit thrown in their face and it's very soon Serious Times Now. Why can't you have some pitiful tsundere prophetic orphan give us this information with a prophetic dream instead? Why not just fucking tell the story already?

AUGH ALL OF MY GRIPES. Tell me your literary tales of woe, Talking Time. I want to drown in your misery.

Falselogic
03-26-2012, 02:31 PM
I read the first two books in that series I think. It was pretty standard fantasy fare. My question is how many people keep reading a book/series after you've decided you hate it?

Cause, seriously, why?

gahitsu
03-26-2012, 02:43 PM
I read the first two books in that series I think. It was pretty standard fantasy fare. My question is how many people keep reading a book/series after you've decided you hate it?

Cause, seriously, why?

I've had aspirations (among other things), of becoming an author that people don't want to spit on. I think reading great books is fantastic, both just for the simple pleasure of reading good literature as well as inspiration and motivation to write your own magnum opus. However, maybe even just as importantly, I think it's important to read drivel, to consume horrible shit that no one in their right mind would ever love. Being exposed to things that you actively dislike is a good way to avoid those things in your own writing, and additionally, I feel that it's a good exercise in thinking critically about emotional responses to writing. You could never make a definitive list of "avoid these things and you'll be okay," but at least you have those experiences. You're better equipped not only to identify hackneyed writing, but why it's bad reading.

Plus I bought this motherfucker and I'm cheap, so it's getting read.

Mightyblue
03-26-2012, 02:58 PM
It's implied (and stated explictly later in the second and third books) pretty heavily throughout the first Corean trilogy that the Duarchy wasn't as squeaky clean as it's made out to be. The second trilogy is set in that period and gives you a view from the other side than the first trilogy, more or less. As a more or less avowed Modesitt fan, I'll readily admit that the first Corean books are pretty standard fantasy boilerplate in a unique setting, but his real strength has always been in his alternate history and sci-fi books. Probably one of the few fiction writers to honestly consider the ethical considerations of technology and its use alongside the general ethical studies featured in the same.

gahitsu
03-26-2012, 03:04 PM
It's implied (and stated explictly later in the second and third books) pretty heavily throughout the first Corean trilogy that the Duarchy wasn't as squeaky clean as it's made out to be. The second trilogy is set in that period and gives you a view from the other side than the first trilogy, more or less. As a more or less avowed Modesitt fan, I'll readily admit that the first Corean books are pretty standard fantasy boilerplate in a unique setting, but his real strength has always been in his alternate history and sci-fi books. Probably one of the few fiction writers to honestly consider the ethical considerations of technology and its use alongside the general ethical studies featured in the same.

This is the first Modesitt book that I've read, so I can't speak from experience, but I have heard from Peoples that he's a better sci-fi author than fantasy. But your comments are promising, and I'd be willing to forgive some hackneyed writing for quality fantasy ethics, which is not a particularly common thing (or at least, not done well).

Behemoth
03-26-2012, 03:28 PM
I'm so happy this thread exists. Now I have one more place to heap vitriol on books I hate.

...and the most recent contender is Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. This is a book that got a lot of early buzz as "the best new fantasy debut of 2012, etc., etc.," and so (despite its terrible cover (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kbTNyCeYOeo/TwIUTOGFIUI/AAAAAAAAHZo/epOtdCyd0Hw/s1600/Throne%2Bof%2Bthe%2BCrescent%2BMoon.jpg)) I went in with a least of modicum of hope that it wouldn't be completely fucking terrible.

Reader, it was completely fucking terrible.

This is some R.A. Salvatore shit right here - suuuuuuuuuuper generic and stereotypical characters (wise old world-weary wizard just wanting to complete this last quest? Check. Self-righteous young wunderkind warrior? Check. Savage barbarian fighter girl from the wilderness? Check and mate.), ear gratingly bad dialogue, even worse prose, bog-standard plot. The only, the only, thing that sets it apart from other terrible fantasy novels is its faux-middle eastern setting, but even that doesn't elevate it so much as make it feel like someone's "exotic" D&D campaign brought to life. In sum, it was as shallow as a kiddie pool and as clichéd as that metaphor. D-.

My question is how many people keep reading a book/series after you've decided you hate it?

Cause, seriously, why?

In this case, three reasons: (1) it was short, (2) I was hoping the ending would manage to not be trite and predictable (nope!), and (3) any book that is so terrible I simply cannot finish reading gets an automatic F, and I try to reserve that for the rare book that truly, deeply deserves it.

Tanto
03-26-2012, 04:07 PM
I read the first two books in that series I think. It was pretty standard fantasy fare. My question is how many people keep reading a book/series after you've decided you hate it?

Cause, seriously, why?

I pretty much have to finish any book I start. After I've read enough of it, some part of my mind feels I'm owed the ending. This is why I can never read Twilight or Eragon, even ironically -- I'd have to do the whole series after that, and life's too short.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading A Dance With Dragons, and about the only thought I had was "It's really, really obvious this was supposed to be skipped over." It wasn't bad, it was just... Why am I supposed to care, here?

Mightyblue
03-26-2012, 04:12 PM
This is the first Modesitt book that I've read, so I can't speak from experience, but I have heard from Peoples that he's a better sci-fi author than fantasy. But your comments are promising, and I'd be willing to forgive some hackneyed writing for quality fantasy ethics, which is not a particularly common thing (or at least, not done well).

The non-spoilerly thing to look out for is the varying way a "Legacy of the Duarches" is defined and used in the different places Alucius goes. The Corean series as a whole is basically a Western Fantasy branded take on environmental economics, and the corresponding ethical use of the environment and its resources in the development of a civilization with a dash of colonialism-style exploitation.

gahitsu
03-26-2012, 04:17 PM
The non-spoilerly thing to look out for is the varying way a "Legacy of the Duarches" is defined and used in the different places Alucius goes. The Corean series as a whole is basically a Western Fantasy branded take on environmental economics, and the corresponding ethical use of the environment and its resources in the development of a civilization with a dash of colonialism-style exploitation.

Man, this book is sounding better and better, stilted writing aside! Thanks, man.

Also, I'm very glad I'm not the only person who so strongly dislikes the sacred cow that is RA Salvatore. Homeland is actually one bad book I started reading and then stopped. I actually mean to pick it up again, and go through the whole series, I didn't intend to quit halfway through the first book, never mind the trilogy, I just ... completely ran out of steam for reading a book that was just so damn terrible. I've heard that the first Drizzt book is much worse than the sequels, and that it picks up later. But it's just such a terrible slog. And ditto on the irrational urge to complete a book regardless of quality, Tanto.

keele864
03-26-2012, 04:46 PM
Also, I'm very glad I'm not the only person who so strongly dislikes the sacred cow that is RA Salvatore.

By all accounts R.A. Salvatore is a great guy, he speaks at local libraries, gives money to literacy charities, etc., but I'm still embarrassed how much of his stuff I read in middle school and the first two years of high school. I really went downhill from my elementary school self who read Tolkien and Lewis and T.H. White... I've donated most of my Salvatore collection to the library bookstore, but somehow I didn't want to drop off the one signed book I had. I can't entirely erase that thirteen-year-old me I suppose.

(Then there was the early college phase, when I had far too high an opinion of Michael Moorcock and failed to realize how silly he could be about a) his politics, b) his fictional cosmology, c) his friends and acquaintances, and d) people he dislikes.)

pence
03-26-2012, 04:58 PM
This is now the 'gripe about shared-world fantasy' thread.

I managed to muscle through the first Icewind Dale book sometime in college; knowledge of the setting did not increase my enjoyment. Although, looking at the Amazon.com reviews I cannot technically disagree that it was "filled with plot twists & subplots & everything else that makes a story interesting".

When I discovered many fantasy roleplaying books have Recommended Reading sections, I discovered fantasy that doesn't suck.

Dizzy
03-26-2012, 05:04 PM
This place is such a hotbed for fantasy love. I feel like a communist spy.

Mightyblue
03-26-2012, 05:23 PM
Man, this book is sounding better and better, stilted writing aside! Thanks, man. Yeah, I didn't notice it until I reread the earlier novels right about the time the last of the second trilogy was coming out, but the Corean Chronicles are pretty much a shot across the bow of the Western style of massive resource exploitation of native lands in order to fuel the growth of the ruling civilization both in terms of natural and human resources (i.e., slavery).

Granted, that's pretty much true of all his works, but it tends to run more as an undercurrent in his fantasy and alt-history stuff.

gahitsu
03-26-2012, 05:38 PM
This place is such a hotbed for fantasy love. I feel like a communist spy.

¿Que?

Also, it's pretty disappointing how many meh books have the Ebberon setting slapped on, pence.

keele864
03-26-2012, 06:25 PM
This place is such a hotbed for fantasy love. I feel like a communist spy.

Here, the reading list of a communist spy. (http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/7140658/kim-philbys-library.thtml)

Modern fiction: Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country; Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools; F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night; Ernest Hemingway, Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises), Death in the Afternoon; Elizabeth Bowen, Friends and Relatives, The Hotel, The House in Paris, Last September, To the North; Anthony Powell, Agents and Patients, Venusberg, The Fisher King; R.K. Narayan, The Talkative Man; Gore Vidal, Lincoln; Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Memoirs: Pablo Neruda, Memoirs; Edmund Wilson, The Fifties.

Travel: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani, Roumeli, A Time of Gifts, The Traveller’s Tree.

Literary criticism: Somerset Maugham, Ten Authors and Their Novels.

Popular novels: P.G. Wodehouse (2), Nancy Mitford (2), Nicholas Monserrat (4), Simon Raven (1).

Thrillers and spy fiction: Agatha Christie (21), Francis Iles (1), Dashiell Hammett (2), Margery Allingham (4), Julian Symons (3), Michael Gilbert (3), Edmund Crispin (1), Dick Francis (1), P.D. James (1), Patricia Highsmith (12), Ed McBain (15), Nicolas Freeling (2), Anthony Price (1), John le Carré (1), Robert Parker (3).

History: A.J.P. Taylor, Bismarck, the Man and the Statesman; Correlli Barnett, The Desert Generals, The Audit of War; Martin Middlebrook, The First Day of the Somme, 1 July 1916; William McNeill, Plagues and People; Christine Sutherland, Princess of Siberia: The Story of Maria Volkonsky and the Decembrist Exiles; Lyn Macdonald, Somme.

Espionage: Nigel West, MI6; Christopher Andrew and David Dilks, eds., The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the Twentieth Century.

Fitness (for his wife): The Jane Fonda Work-Out Book.

(I love that last item – of course Philby would order Jane Fonda's workout book)

Asema
03-26-2012, 07:48 PM
I finished it a while ago, but JPod, why do you have to be so bad? It's like Coupland knows he's a bad author, but the incessant self-reference doesn't make that fact sting any less.

Having finished Dubliners, I'm starting on Divergent. While I doubt I'm its target audience, we'll see where this goes.

Falselogic
03-26-2012, 08:27 PM
I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and complain about Ready Player One...

Behemoth
03-26-2012, 08:55 PM
I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and complain about Ready Player One...

I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and defend R.A. Salvatore.

Falselogic
03-26-2012, 09:01 PM
I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and defend R.A. Salvatore.

That's Forgotten Realms... He's more of a Dragonlance kinda guy...

Dubin
03-26-2012, 09:19 PM
Well I just read an article, and I want to gripe about it, and it's about books.

Guess what books are at a 5th grade reading level? To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men are at a 5th grade reading level! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/top-reading_n_1373680.html?ref=education)

To be fair, the treatment reading gets in this country is a disgrace, and we really could use a population more interested in intelligent material with rich vocabulary. But I somehow doubt that kids' reading Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel, and George Orwell more than Twilight (http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R004101202GH426A.pdf) is part of the problem. Yes, those particular books use shorter sentences and simpler words than the books rated at a high school reading level. Yes, that makes them within the technical grasp, theoretically, of 5th graders; and yes, it would be beyond awesome if 5th graders were reading Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel, and George Orwell for fun and understanding what they read. No, that does not automatically make the books in question dumberer than a pedagogical book about addiction (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=16152&l=EN&slid=264589931) that identifies itself as 7th grade/ages 11 and up reading material. (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0894909150/?tag=arbo-20)

According to these guys, (http://www.renlearn.com/ar/overview/atos/) one of those lame educational books written by Time/Life magazine (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=16403&l=EN&slid=264587527) is at a slightly higher reading level than the freaking Iliad (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=12787&l=EN&slid=264587343) and a significantly higher reading level than Charles (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=60407&l=EN&slid=264587646) Dickens (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=44702&l=EN&slid=264589266) and Fyodor (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=703&l=EN&slid=264587688) Dostoyevsky. (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=8625&l=EN&slid=264587688) Again, to be fair, a lot of Dickens' other books are rated at 11.x-12.x, but the fact that a book that identifies itself as ages 11 and up (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0894909150/?tag=arbo-20) got a 9.0 rating (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=16152&l=EN&slid=264589931) just emphasizes how absolutely blind the ATOS rating system is.

But really, I think the worst thing about ATOS is how maddeningly narrow a walled garden it is. We can wring our hands all we want that high school students aren't reading high school books are picking books in the ATOS system that lead to easy 100%'s on the Accelerated Reader quizzes that they're probably being forced to take, but howthaflyingfuck is it supposed to be physically, logistically possible for the 12th grader population to register in this system as reading at a 12th grade level when there are physically, logistically wayyyyy more books at 5th-10th grade levels than at 11th-12th+. If you use the advanced search on the website, just 9.0-10.9 returns 1998 results to 11.0-20.0's 260. And most of those 11+ results are books like de Tocqueville's Democracy in America* (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=70713&l=EN&slid=264591522) or more academic trade non-fiction. (http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=43137&l=EN&slid=264591607) And I mean, while I personally love reading de Tocqueville (in French) (http://data.whicdn.com/images/11824500/the-hipster-cat-you-wouldnt-know-about_large.gif) for pleasure not business, and while I personally would be interested in reading Theodore Roosevelt's biography, (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812966007/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_3?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0375756787&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=03K93JHCV8JFE3MQ01SA) I also remember what it was like to be even an AP high school student (i.e. nowhere near the kind of concentration and comprehension that would be ready to tackle Democracy in friggin America). Somehow I don't think this is the best material to entice a population that reads The Hunger Games more than any other book in ATOS' system.

*And it's not even the best translation! (http://www.loa.org/volume.jsp?RequestID=202)

Evil Dead Junkie
03-26-2012, 09:33 PM
I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and complain about Ready Player One...

I have to say I still don't get that. The book is literally inconsequential. It's like getting really upset over a Blink 182 Song. I mean you could. But why?
.

Karzac
03-26-2012, 09:34 PM
I finished it a while ago, but JPod, why do you have to be so bad? It's like Coupland knows he's a bad author, but the incessant self-reference doesn't make that fact sting any less.

Hey, you should have been around last week when I was ragging on Coupland in Watcha Reading.

I think I may still give Microserfs and Generation X a try, because I do think Coupland's got some good ideas. But that won't be for a very long time.

Evil Dead Junkie
03-26-2012, 09:47 PM
Copeland is like Chuck Klosterman found a way to be even more pleased with himself and even more unpleasant.
.

gahitsu
03-26-2012, 11:40 PM
For what it's worth, Ready Player One does sound really bad.

Octopus Prime
03-27-2012, 02:52 AM
It sounds like that for a good reason!

Dizzy
03-27-2012, 04:32 AM
Here, the reading list of a communist spy. (http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/7140658/kim-philbys-library.thtml)

A communist who reads Fitzgerald? Huh!

shivam
03-27-2012, 10:47 AM
I'm waiting for Shivam to come in and complain about Ready Player One...

meh, been there and done that. see the mid 200s in the main reading thread.

as far as salvatore goes, i look at him like boxed mac and cheese or sugar cereal--it's not particularly good, or good for you, but it's comforting and sometimes you just have a nostalgic craving.

They're the perfect books for 10-15 year olds, which is coincidentally exactly who they are targeted to.

Netbrian
03-27-2012, 11:18 AM
I really like the Dresden Files, but I could do without the little homilies on sexual morality.

Nicholai
03-27-2012, 11:52 AM
meh, been there and done that. see the mid 200s in the main reading thread.

as far as salvatore goes, i look at him like boxed mac and cheese or sugar cereal--it's not particularly good, or good for you, but it's comforting and sometimes you just have a nostalgic craving.

They're the perfect books for 10-15 year olds, which is coincidentally exactly who they are targeted to.

Yeah, I don't get the slamming of Salvatore. He isn't something I'd consider good as a 30 year old, but he entertains his audience well and seems like a pretty good guy otherwise so I don't have a problem with him and I just don't understand the idea of being embarrassed about enjoying him when you were a kid.

Jeanie
03-27-2012, 06:22 PM
I'm reading Star Wars: Red Harvest, which is a story set in the Near-KotOR Era, wherein a Sith Lord accidentally makes some zombies. Now I don't expect much in the way of great dialogue, but when Rojo Trace, a Jedi with a talent for Tele-metrics, feels through the Force his sister being kidnapped, I am treated to this lovely nugget of dialogue:

Listen to me,Trace told him, I don't know who you are, but I am in possession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I will let you go. But if you don't, I promise you, I will track you down, I will find you. And I will make you pay.

keele864
03-27-2012, 07:09 PM
Now I don't expect much in the way of great dialogue, but when Rojo Trace, a Jedi with a talent for Tele-metrics, feels through the Force his sister being kidnapped, I am treated to this lovely nugget of dialogue:

So, title by Dashiell Hammett* and dialogue from Taken? Wow.

*Yes, I know, also a joke on "Blue Harvest"

Dubin
03-29-2012, 08:23 PM
Goddamn it Penguin why do you always have to have the most spineless weak-ass translations
The torrential rains, Captain Liddell Hart comments, caused this delay, an insignificant one, to be sure.
Now that's the stuff.

Hey wait.
For example, an author, Pierre Menard, undertakes to compose Don Quixote--not another Quixote, but the Quixote. His method? To know Spanish well, to rediscover the Catholic faith, to war against the Moors, to forget the history of Europe--in short, to be Miguel de Cervantes.
The first method he conceived was relatively simple. Know Spanish well, recover the Catholic faith, fight against the Moors or the Turk, forget the history of Europe between the years 1602 and 1918, be Miguel de Cervantes. Pierre Menard studied this procedure . . . but discarded it as too easy.
Each twentieth-century reader involuntarily rewrites in his own way the masterpieces of past centuries.
To be, in the twentieth century, a popular novelist of the seventeenth seemed to him a diminution. To be, in some way, Cervantes and reach the Quixote seemed less arduous to him--and, consequently, less interesting--than to go on being Pierre Menard and reach the Quixote through the experiences of Pierre Menard.
Bold mine.
http://www.the-weaving.com/images/temp/emot-psyduck.gif

Edit: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Forking_Paths)
Borges and hypertext
Thank you, wikipedia modern computer people, for sucking all the life and horror out of enjoying this story.
Fucking fuck

Karzac
03-30-2012, 11:47 AM
Dubin, I don't think I've ever understood one of your posts.

cool onion
03-30-2012, 12:50 PM
1) Penguin has weak-ass translations. 2) The Andre Maurois quotes are from a foreword or something to a Borges collection, the Borges quotes are contradicting what he's saying about the story (that first bit about Menard's desire to become Cervantes in order to re-create Don Quixote is really egregious.) 3) Internet people are way up their own asses.

I think that's the gist.

(also anyone who doesn't understand what this "Pierre Menard" shit is referring to exactly, run don't walk to your nearest Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Collected-Fictions-Jorge-Luis-Borges/dp/0140286802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333137189&sr=8-1))

ajr82
03-30-2012, 01:29 PM
Dubin, I don't think I've ever understood one of your posts.

Dubin thinks the board is The Glass Bead Game.

Dubin
03-31-2012, 08:38 PM
Dubin thinks the board is The Glass Bead Game.
You mean it isn't? :(
1) Penguin has weak-ass translations. 2) The Andre Maurois quotes are from a foreword to this Borges collection, (http://www.amazon.com/Labyrinths-Jorge-Luis-Borges/dp/0394604490?tag=duckduckgo-d-20) the Borges quotes are contradicting what he's saying about the story (that first bit about Menard's desire to become Cervantes in order to re-create Don Quixote is really egregious.) 3) Internet people are way up their own asses.

That's the whole thing.
Seriously, sorry though. I sometimes forget how stream-of-consciousness I get when hopping between message boards. Monsieur Maurois in the quotes is describing Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Menard,_Author_of_the_Quixote) and my gripe about Penguin translations was occasioned by comparing translations of The Garden of Forking Paths. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Forking_Paths) I can't seem to find immediate access to the Penguin translation of Garden, so let's just say "There's no accounting for taste" and leave it at that.

This particular gripe was heightened by my having just seen shining examples of reading incomprehension on videogame message boards.

Me: "Silly GameFAQs, such an hilarious misunderstanding of each others' posts. Here, a spell with this Spanish author will soothe my jangled nerves."
*notices preface by André Maurois of the French Academy* *notices discrepancies described by cool onion*
Me: http://www.the-weaving.com/images/temp/emot-gonk.gif
except instead of GameFAQs it was DFO Source

Glass Knuckle
04-02-2012, 07:55 AM
Can I just drop Sword of Truth here? I mean, I read it forever ago but I'm still pissed at it.

Behemoth
04-02-2012, 08:35 AM
Can I just drop Sword of Truth here? I mean, I read it forever ago but I'm still pissed at it.

You could, but the abomination that is The Sword of Truth probably deserves its own thread. (Over at asoiaf.westeros.org they've gotten dozens and dozens of threads out of The Sword of Truth.)

keele864
04-03-2012, 04:41 PM
Samuel Beckett is difficult enough to read in English, so why have I spent a fair bit of the past two days reading one of his novellas in French? Great way to give myself a headache. And once I'm done with the French, I'll read it in English for better comprehension! Another headache forthcoming!

Rosewood
04-04-2012, 07:42 AM
Also, I'm very glad I'm not the only person who so strongly dislikes the sacred cow that is RA Salvatore. Homeland is actually one bad book I started reading and then stopped. [...] But it's just such a terrible slog.

I'm about halfway through this one now, and "slog" about covers it. I don't think it's bad "for what it is," if "what it is" is a book written by someone who churns out a novel every quarter. Doesn't have any real style or substance to it, has a number of awkwardly used words and/or was lazily edited....

If nothing else I now know where that purple "evil" city in Everquest was lifted from. (is there a ripoff trail to follow here and Menzobarranzan [sp]? itself was lifted from something else? )

I think I'll be able to get through Homeland, and possibly the rest of the first Drizzt trilogy. The seven or whatever Drizzt books after that? Well...

Octopus Prime
04-04-2012, 08:21 AM
Due entirely to my liking On Strange Tides when I read it last year, I picked up a copy of Tim Powers short-stories; The Bible Repairman. Frankly, none of the stories I have thus-far read have really been able to hold my attention due to either confusing plot layouts or anticlimactic endings. I'm kind of curious if Strange Tides was a one-off thing and Powers writing isn't for me, or if this is just a collection of his stories that don't quite work.

And on a similar note, I started reading The Lost World (The Arthur Conan Doyle one, not the Jurassic Park sequel) which I am also having a hard time getting in to due to one of the main characters being crazy-racist. By which I do not mean "Rather quite predjudiced indeed" so much as I mean "Predjudiced in ways that are incomprehensible".

Nyarlathotep
04-04-2012, 05:33 PM
So, in preparing for a presentation on The Silent Cry, I've been delving into several acedemic papers, and I'm starting to wonder why I'm sourcing them at all. There are several bizarre misreadings of the text; for instance, one article says that the end of the book where the old family storehouse is torn down, and they find the body of the brothers' great-granduncle is a validation of Takashi's beliefs, which makes no goddamned sense, given that it flies in the face of everything that character believed and claimed.

Then there's another which claims that "[the book's] subject matter bears little relationship to the events described therein. Most important are questions about personal identity, self-knowlege, and the ability to relate the complete truth." which mostly comes off as the product of someone desperately wanting to be quoted for taking a non-traditional view of the novel. This doesn't really make sense either, though, since there are multiple occasions in which the narrator mentions these themes and explicitly talks about them in the book. I can't imagine going through the entirety of the text and not seeing how the events in the plot aren't directly tied to those them. The overwhelming majority of the book is dedicated to self-examination brought about by the plot, and how these themes play out in relation to the characters and their motivations.

Academia is frustrating.

ThricebornPhoenix
04-05-2012, 01:40 PM
Sex on the Moon is a true story about a guy who stole moon rocks from NASA.

It's also unbelievably boring. I started in January and I'm only halfway through. :( The only book I've finished this year is a short children's novel, because I can't parallel process books well enough to read anything else until I finish it.

keele864
04-05-2012, 06:19 PM
And on a similar note, I started reading The Lost World (The Arthur Conan Doyle one, not the Jurassic Park sequel) which I am also having a hard time getting in to due to one of the main characters being crazy-racist. By which I do not mean "Rather quite predjudiced indeed" so much as I mean "Predjudiced in ways that are incomprehensible".

Well, later in the book Prof. Challenger meets a "savage" who looks and acts just like him, so there is some undercutting of racism. Though the black servant remains stereotypically loyal, trusting, etc.

Behemoth
04-06-2012, 11:58 AM
Sex on the Moon is a true story about a guy who stole moon rocks from NASA.

It's also unbelievably boring. I started in January and I'm only halfway through. :( The only book I've finished this year is a short children's novel, because I can't parallel process books well enough to read anything else until I finish it.

My wife worked up at the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences (where this guy was a student) when this all went down. Needless to say, he was summarily rejected from the program once it became public. Dude still had the audacity to send the dean a letter talking about how disappointed he was, and he didn't understand why the college would do that to him, etc., etc. Hilarious.

gahitsu
05-01-2012, 04:59 AM
Oh man, Sword of Truth is fucking awful, indeed. Don't get me started.

I guess for a change of pace, I'll gripe about a book I actually like. I'm reading John Dies at the End at the behest of my friend. I'm enjoying it, and I figured I would, but there's sort of this pattern where it's like, such-and-such weird thing happens AND THAT'S WHEN THE PURPLE FLYING MONKEYS APPEAR!!! Nothing so trite as purple flying monkeys, per se, but following something odd up with something totally oddball and creepy is pretty common and it's starting to ruin the suspense. I mean, there's only so much whadda twyeeest you can take before it's no longer twisty. But I suppose maybe that's the point.

Evil Dead Junkie
05-01-2012, 09:37 AM
Well it is part of the books humor that by the end this all becomes so common that John And Dave can hardly be bothered to react.

By the end of the book they don't let the intrusion of a nightmare alternate universe so much as interrupt their pickup basketball.

Rosewood
05-03-2012, 03:17 PM
Robin Hobb's Ship of Magic: so many of her scenes follow this pattern of making the point they're supposed to make as far as how the characters relate to each other, setting up the fantasy elements, and so forth... then continuing for a couple thousand words past that, my attitude quickly changing from peaking interest to boredom. I never got through the second Assassin book for a similar reason. Too much maundering.

Behemoth
05-03-2012, 03:31 PM
Robin Hobb's Ship of Magic: so many of her scenes follow this pattern of making the point they're supposed to make as far as how the characters relate to each other, setting up the fantasy elements, and so forth... then continuing for a couple thousand words past that, my attitude quickly changing from peaking interest to boredom. I never got through the second Assassin book for a similar reason. Too much maundering.

If you think that's bad don't ever try to read the Tawny Man Trilogy.

keele864
05-03-2012, 06:21 PM
If you think that's bad don't ever try to read the Tawny Man Trilogy.

I really liked the second Fitz trilogy, but I read it as a teenager and perhaps I'd feel different about it now. I only ever got a hundred pages into the Liveship books, mostly because I didn't like the nautical stuff. Of course, a few years later I became a Patrick O'Brian addict, so I guess my tastes have changed.

Currently reading
The Return by Roberto Bolano - I really love this writer, but so far at least I prefer his novels to his short stories. I also wish that New Directions had n't cannibalized two Spanish collections to create two new books that have all the same stories, but in a different order. Then again, releasing the original collections under their original titles might have created a marketing problem. I can see a book titled Murdering Whores raising a few eyebrows... except that New Directions already publishes Bolano's difficult-to-sell Nazi Literature in the Americas.

The Crime of the Century by Kingsley Amis was originally a newspaper serial; it's probably the most frivolous thing Amis ever wrote, even more so than his 007 book Colonel Sun. It's good for what it is, but it's really minor work. But I'll read just about anything by Amis.

Lady
01-28-2014, 09:45 PM
Are there any empowered women or feminists of any bent who can wholeheartedly enjoy Heinlein's women characters?

I don't know how long I've been trying to read Stranger in a Strange Land. Every chapter brings another a dozen new facepalms.

Chapter XXI.
Please, girls!
Anne creating a bow wave with her height, her Valkyrie beauty, her impressive cloak
the girls
Miriam and Dorcas displayed ferocity that reminded Jubal of a cat defending her young
spiked inheel
Get crackin', girls. First one back with a drink for me skips her next turn at "Front"
the girls
these kids who work for me may sometimes misspell words... but they are all great cooks
Snooping? Stay after school and write one thousand times. . .
See what I have to put up with? We should have never put shoes on them
Back to the kitchen, woman
You may back out quietly
Notice that only the men are conversing together in this scene.
Let's drink to the girls. Sven, what's that toast to the flickas?
They drank to their female water-brothers
Jubal, where do you find them?
Raise 'em in my own cellar. Then when I have them trained, some city slicker comes along and marries them.
I saw Dorcas making eyes at you, and you were purring
Lunch, and about time! Girls, put it where we can reach it and maintain a respectful silence
Then there is almost a whole blissful page of non-gendered rhetoric.
and now that he stopped to notice, the women of Jubal's household were plumper than he had thought. That dark one--
it pleased him that these women did not chatter, did not intrude into sober talk of men, but were quick with food and drink in warm hospitality. He had been shocked at Miriam's disrespect towards her master--then recognized it; a liberty permitted cats and favorite children in the privacy of the home.

Becky, I'm glad to see you, girl!
"All you'll get from me is a hug and a kiss that will crack your ribs."
. . .
"I remember how you used to pat my fanny while you assured me that the Professor was sure to get well"
. . .
"You weren't fatherly about it, either."
"Maybe it was the treatment you needed. I've given up fanny patting --but I'll make an exception in your case."
"You'd better"
One a star in her profession... under her married name because I'm a old bum instead of a revered memory
Daughters can spend ten percent more than a man can make in any usual occupation

Captain, have your daughters ever been threatened with kidnapping?
. . .
you would have those girls guarded day and night, still you would not rest because you could never be sure of the guards

and the last remaining pages of the chapter are tolerable again.

BLAH

Grignr
01-29-2014, 03:44 AM
Are there any empowered women or feminists of any bent who can wholeheartedly enjoy Heinlein's women characters?

Did you know Heinlein wrote a novel just for girls? It's called Podkayne of Mars. He wrote a book just for you!

Loki
01-29-2014, 06:18 AM
Yeah well, it's Stranger in a Strange Land.

Teaspoon
01-29-2014, 07:12 AM
To Sail Beyond the Sunset is his last novel, by a female protagonist, and even though it's kind of terrible I enjoy Maureen. Of course, she's basically gender-flipped Lazarus Long, so...

Lady
01-29-2014, 07:17 AM
Yeah well, it's Stranger in a Strange Land.

growing up, that was the definitive heinlein novel I heard about, had recommended, saw other (males, now that I think about it) people gushing over. but no one ever mentioned this stuff. Did everyone get tired of discussing it twenty years ago, or is it just assumed everyone else knows already?

Teaspoon
01-29-2014, 07:40 AM
I think arrant sexism is something people tend to take for granted with any pre-1960 SF writer of any description whatsoever. Just because that's the norm and forward-thinking exceptions are rare and precious.

Loki
01-29-2014, 07:42 AM
growing up, that was the definitive heinlein novel I heard about, had recommended, saw other (males, now that I think about it) people gushing over. but no one ever mentioned this stuff. Did everyone get tired of discussing it twenty years ago, or is it just assumed everyone else knows already?

Basically yeah. It was at one time a big deal but it's become really dated for just the reasons that are bothing you (among a host of others).

Teaspoon
01-29-2014, 07:46 AM
(The water brothers bit will actually make more sense later on, for the record. I shouldn't care to defend the rest of it.)

Also, it's just going to get worse. Like, far more embarrassingly terrible.

Karzac
01-29-2014, 08:40 PM
I really respect Mary Wollstonecraft as an early feminist, but her writing is often very difficult to follow.

pointzeroeight
01-30-2014, 08:30 AM
Not what I'm currently reading, though it's been on hold for years: Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. I started it... 3-4 years ago? But the parts that are not focused on Musashi himself are just so slow and dull that it's a pain to keep going in it.

Teaspoon
02-15-2014, 11:57 PM
"In your own Earth history what would have happened if Charlemagne had fallen at Roncevalles? One minor skirmish?"

"It would have been an Echthroi victory?"

"And your history would have been even darker than it is."

Someone reminded me of Madeleine L'Engle today. I can't stand her, and it's because of passages like that, which don't even try to argue and simply take for granted What Is Good (the Islamic civilisation in Spain was holding its own a lot better then what was left of the Roman empire).

(And the "blue eyes good, brown eyes bad" motif in the Welsh-Native-Americans novel.)