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Old 02-07-2022, 08:12 PM   #46
astrangerhere
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Another that I suspect hasn’t held up and is unreadable now is Thomas Wolfe. Not Tom, although I suspect a case could be made for his books too, except for The Right Stuff.. Anyway, Thomas. Does anyone read Look Homeward, Angel anymore? And it was downhill from there. The also-ran in Max Perkins’ stable of famous writers and the others have already made the list.
I actually took an entire class on Wolfe at UNC, and one of our libraries houses his papers as it was also his alma mater. I wouldn't go out of my way to read it again, but I enjoyed Look Homeward, Angel.

I also really love The Road which was also mentioned here. It is probably in my wife's top 25 of all time.
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:33 PM   #47
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I was made to read "The Old Man and the Sea" in high school. I think 90% of that is an old man sitting in a boat while a fish dragged it around. I remember the English teacher admitting that he kind of hated it, lol.
I never really _got_ the fuss about Hemingway. I'm going to try The Sun also Rises. I like the subject--the lost (i.e. dissipated?) American generation in Paris in the 20s. I skimmed it so far. The prose is simple and effective, but special? Nope. What looked interesting were the dissipated and bohemian character getting sloshed.
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:34 PM   #48
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I could not handle The Natural or Fight Club. I enjoyed the movies but the books were unbearable.
I liked the Fight Club, though I did not finish it.
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:37 PM   #49
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I did not like Dostoevsky's The Brother's Karamazov. While I liked Hyperion by Dan Simmons, I really disliked Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that it was based on.

Ulysses by James Joyce
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
How dare you. Gatsby is possibly the finest novel ever written. IMO.

Yeah, Lolita. I don't get it. They say the prose is amazing. Seemed nothing special to me. Perhaps I should re-read it. Naked Lunch was...meh, weird. Junkie is better (i.e. not total crud).
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Old 02-08-2022, 01:29 AM   #50
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How about "Eunoia" by Christian Bök? The book won the Griffin prize in 2002, and was a hit among the literary crowd. It is an "anthology of univocalics", having whole chapters with only one of the vowels appearing in every word. Apparently you are supposed to read it out loud for full enjoyment. I like poetry and thought it sounded like fun, but I couldn't get any momentum when trying to read it. I don't want to believe that all the big hitters who praised it are poseurs, but the seed of doubt is definitely planted in my mind.
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Old 02-08-2022, 02:09 AM   #51
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I haven't read any book which fits the criteria -- plenty of books I didn't like, but none that I'd consider so universally bad that I can't imagine others enjoying them.

I read Hamsun's "Victoria" in school and hated it because the protagonist is so whiny and annoying, and tried and gave up "Hunger" for the same reason. But I've heard others describing "Hunger" as hilarious, and have no problems seeing that it can be for someone who doesn't nope out at the first cringeworthy dialogue about the carpet. There are other lauded books I've tried and abandoned because they just didn't grip me -- Marquez' "A Hundred Years of Solitude" and Smith's "White Teeth" spring to mind -- but I could see there was stuff there to enjoy, even if those books weren't for me.

Other people have such weird tastes as shown in this thread, so I'm willing to believe them sincerely enjoying pretty much anything!
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Old 02-08-2022, 07:10 AM   #52
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I think Moby Dick is the big one for me. It's the one I have the most trouble understanding how anyone else could possibly have enjoyed it. Only the book's reputation as a classic had me force myself through to the end. There were a handful of excellent paragraphs to be found (including the first), but it was like panning for gold: lots of mud and very little shine. If ever a book was made to be summarised by Reader's Digest, this was it.

Quite a few books in my log that get a score of 1 (Waste of Space) while getting 5 stars from others. It's a vast chasm of difference but usually I can see something that others might have found appealing or redeeming, even if I did not. So there's is usually a faint glimmer of understanding.

I have more trouble the other way. If I give a book 5 then I will forever wonder how someone else might give it a 1. 3 would account for different tastes, 2 if the person found the book truly annoying, but 1? And then I remind myself that other people not only have different taste, they also use different scoring rules.
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Old 02-08-2022, 09:14 AM   #53
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Anything by James Joyce. Mostly unreadable. A Literature professor and English teacher, that both died in 2021, also endorse this view.
Look him up. His exile was self imposed. Some books so experimental as to be unreadable (I couldn't finish any of the 4) and in 27 years of publishing had 3 novels and one collection of short stories. He vanity published one of the novels. In one 17 year period he only wrote some poetry.

The most over-rated Irish writer ever. Loads of far better dead and living Irish Authors.
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Old 02-08-2022, 09:17 AM   #54
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I think Moby Dick is the big one for me... If ever a book was made to be summarised by Reader's Digest, this was it.
There was a Reader's Digest Moby-Dick. But looking at it, it was not 'condensed'. 1989 Reader's Digest Moby-Dick

Quote:
I have more trouble the other way. If I give a book 5 then I will forever wonder how someone else might give it a 1. 3 would account for different tastes, 2 if the person found the book truly annoying, but 1? And then I remind myself that other people not only have different taste, they also use different scoring rules.
I just assume such differences come down to different count of brain cells, with mine being higher of course
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Old 02-08-2022, 10:38 AM   #55
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Anything by James Joyce. Mostly unreadable.
Does “mostly” leave room for an exception for Dubliners? Because I take your point, but Dubliners strikes me as accessible. “The Dead” is a masterpiece.
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Old 02-08-2022, 10:58 AM   #56
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Dickens Great Expectations was one for me. I tried to read this in high school I had read a few other Dickens novels so I'm not sure what made this one difficult for me but it was a DNF.
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Old 02-08-2022, 11:17 AM   #57
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Quote:
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I think Moby Dick is the big one for me. <snip>
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There was a Reader's Digest Moby-Dick. But looking at it, it was not 'condensed'. 1989 Reader's Digest Moby-Dick

I just assume such differences come down to different count of brain cells, with mine being higher of course
Back a few years before the pandemic, the University of Plymoth did a "Big Read" of Moby Dick. Each chapter was read by a different person, including names such as Roger Allam, Tilda Swinton, and Mary Oliver. I read MD in my American Literature semester of my degree, but I did a re-listen when I blew my back out and was doing daily re-hab on the rowing machine. I have the Scott Brick version as well, but this was just different.

You can find the project here: https://www.mobydickbigread.com/
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Old 02-08-2022, 11:47 AM   #58
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I bounced right off Don Quixote. I just couldn't face a whole lengthy book of that.

I can battle through a difficult and/or boring book as long as it's short.

Dickens is too verbose by far. I'm not sure I trust anyone who claims to enjoy it. Maybe also Thackeray. Those serialized books end up far too long.

And might I suggest, despite the fact that length is definitely not a problem here (in fact, maybe too short?): all poetry.
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Old 02-08-2022, 12:53 PM   #59
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I really can't seem to enjoy reading anything much older than mid-twentieth century. The language and style is just not relatable. I use George Orwell as a benchmark for no other reason than I remember enjoying "Animal Farm" and "1984" in school, but never enjoying any "classic" from any time much before.

HOWEVER, I truly enjoyed Frank Muller's audio book performance of "Moby Dick," and I enjoyed that Leonardo DiCaprio "Romeo+Juliet" movie, which is pretty much word-for-word Shakespeare, but in a modern setting. It was the first time I felt I understood the play.

So I guess I might like a lot of the classic stories if I didn't actually have to read them. I guess that's the root of the "I'll wait for the movie" cliche....

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Old 02-08-2022, 01:56 PM   #60
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...I enjoyed that Leonardo DiCaprio "Romeo+Juliet" movie, which is pretty much word-for-word Shakespeare, but in a modern setting. It was the first time I felt I understood the play.
For Shakespeare, you are far better off seeing the play than trying to read it.

I've made it a point to see several Shakespeare plays, live or recorded. As you watch it you kind of fall into the language and the performance of the actor helps. But trying to read it on paper is a different thing. Even with the assist of something like No Fear Shakespeare.

I did read through the script for Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and it was a compelling and surprisingly modern read.
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