This is a different list from the one preceding because these are books I actually finished. Very difficult list to put together, let me tell you, because I rarely finish a book I dislike (see below). Going the distance in these various cases was a function of forcing my way through, either because I had to read it for a class or something or because I maintained expectations all the way to the end. Here, then, in no particular order:
10. Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. I was rather bewildered when I got to the end of it because the book was downright incomprehensible. If I had not seen the Omar Sharif movie, I’d have no idea what was going on, which is saying something because the movie has its own degree of incomprehensibility. I stayed with it because I kept expecting it to turn into the movie and it didn’t. I later found out that I was reading a bad translation, and that a much better translation is now available. I may have to give this another go, then.
9. Cujo, by Stephen King. Funny how King keeps showing up on my lists of books I didn’t enjoy. I read this expecting something King-like to happen, a psychic kid or a vampire, but a rabid dog as metaphor for punishment of your sins? Oh, please. And now I hear he’s writing a sequel. Oh, please, no.
8. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. Terribly written, embarrassingly so, and so obviously a polemic against the Catholic Church that one wonders how it got published. Which I guess is the reason it was published.
7. Practically everything from Dan Simmons. The Terror, Summer of Night, Drood. Yeah, yeah, I know, Hyperion, which I will read one day. And no doubt will get added to this list. Or I will eat crow.
6. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Yes, I know, classic and loved, the absurdities of war and the people who run them. But I’ve got a bit of a problem with this dismissive, smug attitude towards a war that was nothing but godawful and hell on earth and devastating and whose effects still ripple through these days. Ya know, it wasn’t some war for oil or national corporations, it was for the very survival of humanity. And yes, I have no doubt that numerous absurd and downright funny things happened in its course. My dad told me a couple of funny stories about his 9-month trip to Berlin on top of a tank. But to treat the entire thing as just an object of your amusement? No.
5. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. Revisionist crap.
4. Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom. I saw the movie and ran across the book thereafter and grabbed it with delight and, pitched it across the room with contempt. What a load of unadulterated crap. The title character generates no sympathy or even much interest. Whoever did the screenplay did a much greater service than this POC, and I don’t mean point of contact.
3. The Hobbit, by J R R Tolkien. What? Heresy! But, no, I did not like this novel at all. Not only is it turgid beyond belief, but it is kid’s book turgid. And, yes, yes, I know, it was written as a kid’s book, but no kid on earth would stand for this long-winded convoluted word mess. Its saving grace, of course, is the introduction of Golem and Gandalf but, really, not the best of the group.
2. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. A very long novel about a guy who simply needs to be slapped around for an hour or so. Good Lord, is Ignatius J Reilly obnoxious. Why anyone thinks he is a compelling character, I just can’t say. This is not social commentary as much as a cautionary tale. Which I didn’t need to read.
1. The Firm, by John Grisham. This isn’t a bad novel, it’s just not that good, and overhyped novels and authors irritate me beyond belief. If you can’t live up to your own press, then don’t expect me to bolster your efforts. Besides, I read Scott Turow before I read Grisham and Turow is light years ahead. Grisham is a Turow wannabe. And this novel is a good story wannabe.