The Literary Hoarders thought that from time to time we should request a guest post. Not only does it help alleviate the pressure on us :-), it gives us a chance to ask you for your thoughts…. as we definitely enjoy hearing your reviews and comments about what you loved, hated, recommendations for what we should read next.
For our very first Guest Post, we have Aaron, founder of Opinionless and of the Opinionless Online Book Club (nominations for what to read for February’s meeting are open, so please feel free to join and cast your vote!) The Literary Hoarders have definitely expanded their reading options thanks to Opinionless and these selections have undoubtedly become some of our favourite books! His post below contains his selections for the “Worst of 2011″…enjoy! (His opinion of The Last Werewolf had us in stitches and ensures we will never, ever read that book!)
Without further ado….
Screw year-end best-of lists. I’m tired of being told how wonderful State of Wonder was by every major publication in the country. I’ve read it. It was just okay. Instead, let’s hit the pause button on the praising the year’s supposed cream of the crop to instead take time out to celebrate the worst that this past year’s fiction had to offer.
I’ve created several categories below and assigned all but one a clear cut winner. There are no actual awards to hand out, but you don’t have to sit through any acceptance speeches either, so there’s that. Instead what you get is my witty commentary on why each title won its award. Enjoy.
Worst suicide note: Tamaki / Haruki Murakami / 1Q84
You are my only friend, the only person in the world I can trust. But I am beyond saving now. Please remember me always if you can. If only we could have gone on playing softball together forever!
Yeah, your decision to knowingly marry a sadistically abusive man is my fault because I didn’t feel like playing pitcher in the local co-ed league until my breasts sagged and my uterus fell out.
Best use of the word anus: Marlowe / The Last Werewolf / Glen Duncan
A breeze stirred the honeysuckle, the hairs on my ears and delirious wet snout. My scrotum twitched and my breath passed hot over my tongue. My anus was tenderly alert. I pictured my human self jumping the twenty feet, felt the shock of smashed ankles and slivered shins—then the new power like an inkling of depravity. I leaped from the window and bounded into the moonlight.
Spider-man’s groovy spider sense has nothing on this guy’s itchy asshole.
Worst sub-plot in a novel: Cassius / The Cat’s Table / Michael Ondaatje
During one of our constant palavers in the turbine room, Cassius said, “Remember the bogs at St. Thomas’ College?” He was lying back against a life preserver sucking condensed milk out of a tin. “You know what I am going to do, before I get off this ship? I promise you I am going to take a shit in the Captain’s enamel toilet.”
Will Cassius get his chance? What color will it be? Oh Ondaatje, what wonderful storytelling and masterful prose! You can literally write about taking a crap and we’ll still heap endless praise upon you and nominate you for awards that you’re all to ready to admit to winning too many times already.
Most misleading book jacket text: TIE: The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
Oh please, if you’ve read the novel then you know that the “competition” is anything BUT fierce. If you haven’t read it, be forewarned that “this is a game in which only one can be left standing” is a flat out lie and an insult to the intelligence of the book’s prospective audience.
Most misleading book jacket text: TIE: Bent Road / Lori Roy
For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding his sister Eve’s death. As a young man, Arthur fled his small Kansas hometown, moved to Detroit, married Celia, and never looked back. But when the 1967 riots frighten him even more than his past, he convinces Celia to pack up their family and return to the road he grew up on, Bent Road, and that same small town where Eve mysteriously died.
What scares Arthur isn’t the race riots, it’s the fact that black men start courting his teenage daughter. He’s a racist for sure, but it’s the late 1960’s so even if it is unacceptable, we get it. You don’t have to lie to us in order to move units.
Worst cover art: Tom Perrotta / The Leftovers
All across the world people are vanishing in a rapture-like event! Is the best visual representation of this phenomenon really a pair of old shoes with nasty smell vapors emanating from them? Maybe the publisher is trying to subtlety warn readers to stay away because the novel is a real stinker. That would be a shame though, because it’s anything but.
Worst book description I stumbled across in 2011 (that wasn’t published in 2011): Robert Thornhill / Lady Justice Takes a C.R.A.P
This is where it all began.
See how sixty-five year old retiree, Walter Williams, became a cop and started the City Retiree Action Patrol.
Meet Maggie, Willie, Mary and the Professor, Walt’s zany sidekicks in all of the Lady Justice novels.
Laugh out loud as Walt and his band of Senior Scrappers capture the ‘Realtor Rapist” and take down the ‘Russian Mob’.
Not only does the title suck, but the line “Laugh out loud as Walt and his band of Senior Scrappers capture the Realtor Rapist…” is just plain offensive.
Raise your hand if you find rape funny! Raise your other hand if you think it’s great that the police aren’t protecting the elderly from a sexual predator! Are both your hands in the air? Good, that means you can’t pick up the book. C.R.A.P. indeed.
Worst narrative technique that was employed for the entire length of a novel: First person plural / Julie Otsuka / The Buddha in the Attic
They took us calmly. They took us gently, but firmly, and without saying a word. They assumed we were the virgins the matchmakers had promised them we were and they took us with exquisite care. Now let me know if it hurts. They took us flat on our backs on the bare floor of the Minute Motel. They took us downtown, in second-rate rooms at the Kumamoto Inn. They took us in the best hotels in San Francisco that a yellow man could set foot in at the time. The Kinokuniya Hotel. The Mikado. The Hotel Ogawa. They took us for granted and assumed we would do for them whatever it was we were told. Please turn toward the wall and drop down on your hands and knees. They took us by the elbows and said quietly, “It’s time.” They took us before we were ready and the bleeding did not stop for three days. They took us with our white silk kimonos twisted up high over our heads and we were sure we were about to die. I thought I was being smothered. They took us greedily, hungrily, as though they had been waiting to take us for a thousand and one years. They took us even though we were still nauseous from the boat and the ground had not yet stopped rocking beneath our feet. They took us violently, with their fists, whenever we tried to resist.
That goes on for 129 pages and prompted me to write my review of the title using only first person plural (snippet below):
Some of us read The Buddha in the Attic on our nooks. I love my nook simple touch reader. Some of us read it on our Kobos. Some of us read it our Amazon Kindles. Some of us read it on our Sony e-Readers. Some of us read it on our iPads. Some of us read it on our iPhones. RIP Steve Jobs. One of us didn’t read it at all. She never learned how to read. A few of us borrowed copies from our local library only to discover that pages were missing. Several of us bought the hardcover version at Barnes and Noble and then returned it after the author was a no show for an in-store signing event. Sheneqa won an advanced readers copy via the Goodreads website, but she sold it on eBay to buy formula for her sister’s adopted baby. Two of us ordered it from Amazon.com using our neighbor’s computer, credit card number, and address so that the purchase would never be tracked back to us. We didn’t want to be labeled as book nerds. One of us bought it at Walmart when the price was rolled back.
Do you disagree with my selections? Is there a category you’d like to add to the awards? Share your worst experiences with 2011 fiction using the comment form below.
Oh so fun! Aaron– you are the master!