Sunday, March 11, 2007

Great Novels That Suck

As I'm paging through the "Classics" pages at, it dawns on me that there are gaping holes in my education. And whoever decides if something is "classic" over there is applying the term quite liberally. Anyway, on to my list of great novels that suck...

  • Anything by John Steinbeck. Sadly I blame my distaste for Steinbeck on my schooling. We were required to read at least one of his novels every year from 7th grade on. Hey, I know! Let's force brooding, melodramatic teens girls to read stories filled the with soul crushing disappointments of marginal lives! By the time I got to Grapes of Wrath my senior year, I could no longer be objective.

  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The first Hemingway I read. But unlike with Steinbeck, I was not ruined. I went on to read just about every other terse, well chosen word Hemingway wrote and loved it all.

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I read this one summer well after college as an attempt to fill some of those aforementioned holes in my education. The only thing that kept me turning pages was the hope that it would somehow get better. It didn't.

  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I know, I know, this is practically anti-American. I wanted to love this novel because it's supposed to be the defining novel of social outcasts and critics of social norms every where. And I tried. I've probably started the thing 4 or 5 times. Could never finish it. I find Holden Caulfield as annoying as the phonies.

  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Ok, not technically a novel, but it's my list so I can make the rules. Why are so many "classics" just so damn depressing? If I ever have to sit through a production of this play again, I may need major therapy to recover.

  • All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. I was supposed to read this book in a senior year English course. I only got a few chapters into it before declaring it boring beyond belief and refusing to read it. My teacher knew this (because I just can't keep these things to myself - you're shocked, I know) and still had to give me a C on my paper because of my decent writing skills.

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