Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Massive Fail, Part 1

dean has been bugging me why I always write reviews wherein I like the book or they're "carefully-worded." Nowadays I usually don't finish a book I don't get into. I guess I'm that age wherein I'm starting to feel the weight of all my still-unread books at home. (What? I should stop buying more books? I can't hear you, there's something in my ear...)

This is ironic given that when I was younger, I was of the camp that one should finish reading a book in order to honestly say whether it's good or not. I felt that it wasn't giving a book the proper chance if one gives up on it.

So yes, there are some books I don't like. And to give fair play to this blog, here's a few books that didn't make it in the long run. Since I can't really remember which book I dumped before its proper time, let's use my book orphanage list here and here to remind me (plus a few additions):

No Way in Hell books

This particular category belongs to books that I didn't finish in one way or another. Usually these reasons could be slotted into: I got bored, the writing was bad, or I just didn't feel like getting into it. The last reason could be described as unfair (and I admit this is true) so this type of book that had gotten short-shrift in the first reading sometimes gets a second chance.
  1. Weavers of Saramyr by Chris Wooding- I picked up this book because I'd seen a few reviews and they were mostly good. The story was also somewhat different from the usual run-of-the-mill Western epic fantasy, i.e. an Asian-type empire facing dangers from within by a secretive group of masked wizards. Unfortunately, the writing was somewhat below-par in my estimation and the narrative form was a bit blocky-- i.e. too many big paragraphs, not too much dialogue that could break up the blocks-- that reading it felt like I was slogging through the words.It There were also bits of ill-fitting exposition in the first chapter that I read.
  2. Tower at the Edge of Time by Lin Carter- I know Carter is regarded as one of the lesser pulp gods (or greater, depending on how you view it) but even this recycled Conan the Barbarian-type protagonist and story felt exactly that: a recycled Conan the Barbarian protagonist and not even that good a story. The prose was also purplish for me but without the interesting story intro that one could excuse H.P. Lovecraft's tales. It didn't help that my copy was old, tattered and quite battered. Likewise, the cover was awful with a loin-clothed covered muscle-thewed warrior looking far into the distance.
  3. Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- I know Yabro is good in some quarters (hey, her Saint-Germaine vampire books are into the umpteenth in a series already). But I didn't like her protagonist-- Ariosto, an Italian Renaissance writer imagining himself as a hero-- as it felt too much like a writer writing about doing Great Big Things (read: whiney). My copy also had a large rip at the corner of the cover which offended my aesthetic sensibilities. Why did I buy it despite the rip? I thought it had potential.
  4. The Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer- I once read a short story of Kritzer's and quite liked it, hence my decision in buying this book However, the concept wasn't a strong enough interest for me to begin with (about a budding musician in a secondary world who decides to rebel). And when I started it, the beginning was too slow (one could say almost boring) that whatever flagging enthusiasm I had evaporated, alas.
To be continued...


Dean said...

Huzzah! ;)

banzai cat said...

Hehe more to come!

Don said...

Lin Carter- fanboy much? haha. read one of his 'lovecraftian' stories in werid tales.

banzai cat said...

Hah, that is true. But his name doesn't seem to generate the same respect as say William Hope Hodgson in terms of Lovecraftian fiction.

JP said...

Lin Carter brought a lot of good books to a larger audience as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. These included books that are sadly off the average fantasy fan's radar even now, by authors like Branch Cabell, Arthur Machen and William Morris. Much of his status comes from this work, as a sort of curator of the genre's past for fans of a certain age rather than for his own works, which can be pretty callow.

William Hope Hodgson was a predecessor of Lovecraft, I'm not sure you can strictly call his fiction Lovecraftian in the sense of somehow being influenced by Lovecraft, oroccupying territory earlier explored by Lovecraft.

banzai cat said...

unfortunately true that. I actually try to have sympathy for lin's carter's actual writing but when I try to read his work, I get no buzz. which is sad if you think about it.

as for hodgson, hehe mea culpa. I was thinking he was one of those in correspondence with HP and who later shared in developing the field. must have been thinking of someone else-- who could it be?

JP said...

>>one of those in correspondence with HP and who later shared in developing the field. must have been thinking of someone else-- who could it be?

Virtually everyone, so the confusion's natural. :) Fritz Leiber and Robert Bloch were two of his younger correspondents who outlived him and had many of their main successes after his passing.