Thursday, February 11, 2016

Evil Books

I have read few books in my life that I would categorize as evil.  But I'm sure there are some people out there that are. And no, I don't mean a necronomicon. Those are easy -- those books you burn, and don't even ask questions.

No, I mean the type of books you need to take a shower over.

However, there are plenty of books I don't finish. Many I don't even start. Why? Because of some topics of subject matter that I didn't know about in the first place.

I will never read books about child rape. Never. Period. Done. We're finished. If it's mentioned, a footnote in the crimes of the perp, that's one thing, but I will not sit through reading that.

I will never read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- yes, I'm told that the CHAPTER LONG RAPE SCENE is "soooo well written," and I don't care. Period. If it's so important to the story that the readers need that much detail, screw that. I don't need that in my head, I'm screwed up enough. Thanks.

In case you haven't noticed, rape and particularly child rape, will earn you a spot on my personal capitol punishment list. Meaning that I had better not be aware of you within my general vicinity.

We won't even get into 50 Shades of Stupid. After all, who needs porn? Also, why did it have to be so badly written. Yes, take your pick over what offends me more, the porn or the bad writing. Though I have heard enough excerpts being read in funny little voices that I do think it's hilarious bad.

There is, of course, crap writing. George RR Martin seems to spend so much time on snow and ice and dead people that I can't bring myself to care about his work. And I tried. And I failed. Far as I'm concerned, save the world from Martin and run from it.  I expect the series to end with everybody dead.  That's not evil, that's just a one-trick pony. The only reason a lot of people seem to be reading the books is to see who the last one standing is.

And then there are books like Dan Brown. Message fiction. If you don't believe me, (SPOILERS) the last Dan Brown, Inferno, ended with a third of the world being sterilized. And instead of our heroes doing something reasonable, like trying to stop it, our heroes shrug and go "Oh well, the bad guy was right, overpopulation is a threat to everybody. Screw these people."

No, that's not exactly how they put it, but that's pretty much what I walked away with.

One book I finished in my youth was called MacTeague, something that film buffs would know of via the train wreck that was the 9-hour Eric von Strohiem film Greed. The premise was that a big dumb dentist fell in love with the girl his best friend has his eyes one. The best friend "magnanimously" allows the title doofus to marry the girl.  The girl then wins lotto (yes, really) and clings to every penny like Scrooge. It ends with the title character killing his wife for the cash, riding of into the desert, pursued by his former best friend (who's interested only in the money).

The finale is the two of them, in the desert, with no water, still arguing about the money. All the while I could hear Indiana Jones from Temple of Doom, screaming "You, are going, to DIE."

I think that was the second time in my life I wanted to fling a book across the room. Because evil and stupid people, all of whom you'd rather see die .... all die. And you wonder "Why did I just burn brain cells on all of this?" Answer: Because it was assigned reading in high school.

Sadly, most of the crap books I had to finished were due to "education." Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye are two books that I'm relatively certain that have added nothing to my life. Honestly, the first one was just literary Thomas Hobbes (who I generally disagree with on a philosophical level anyway) and the other was the narration from a teenager who had a nervous breakdown because he couldn't handle becoming a grownup.

As CS Lewis once put into the mouth of a demon, Screwtape, "Of course you can't tempt your primary soul today, that field that protects him comes from reading a good book. You must stop him from doing that. You want him to read "important" books. Books that he'll hate."

So, do yourself a favor everyone. Go out, and read fun books. Books you're going to enjoy. Because life is too short because someone tells you "this book is important."


  1. I'm sort of done with Martin. I loved his earlier shorts (and I still think "Sandkings" is a great one), but his attitude towards readers, of late (and I think also towards writers, but I'm less sure and less worried about that), simply stinks. He's gone from SF professional to guru, with all that implies.

    Haven't read 'Lord of the Flies'. Liked those parts of the movie I saw, as a sort of short SF story, but as a full length book it'd probably be too much. Watcher on the Rye... I read it as a teen, and I couldn't find the point to it. Same with Dan Brown: I only read the first one and, sure, it read quickly. It had nothing. Linear, childish, deus ex machinish... [*]

    Chapter-long sex bores me, by and large. Anita Blake, I'm looking at you, if you're still there. Chapter-long rape? I can understand that a narrative might need a rape, but it's a thin, very thin, line. And you have to be a rather good writer to do it properly. If not, allusion should work pretty well.

    Also, I do read non-fun books, sometimes more often than other. They fall in two categories: failures and essay.

    Take care.

    [*] The religion side was so off that it wasn't even fantasy. And I have personal reasons to think the Opus is not on the side of angels. Private mail if you want them, sorry.

  2. I have never read a word by Dan Brown. People (Catholics) told me they were good books, good stories, etc. and there was nothing wrong with reading them. I still refused to read them, because I don't need his vision of the church in my head. It's a bunch of lies, and I don't like lies.

    This happened after my realization that the "acclaimed" books were just... dreadful. The worst book I ever read was Beloved, by Toni Morrison. I read it in my twenties, because it was "acclaimed." I made me feel dreadful. Absolute dread permeated every page, and it gave me nightmares.

  3. I am sad to say that compared to the stuff my kids are being asked to read, Lord of the Flies actually looks good.

    I have read books like what you are discussing. The first self-published book I ever bought and read had a scene so...gross...I will not speak about it.

    But, yeah, this stuff does not need to be in books. If you can write so well, write about something worth writing about.

  4. As one of my grandchildren said to me, "you just can't un-see something, so it's better not to see it in the first place". Very wise for her tender years.

  5. Reading fun books. I did that yesterday. I got this book called 'Pius Tales' by some guy whose name I can't remember. It was great fun and full of explosions. I like explosions.

    As I've gotten older I have less tolerance for books filled with smutty scenes or anti-Christian or anti-conservative ranting. I'd like to scream at certain authors: quit ranting at me or trying to sexually arouse me and TELL ME A STORY.

  6. I read a book called "General Die in Bed" back in college. It's a nihilistic dirge about how nothing means anything because war is bad. Sure, war is bad, but it's hard to sympathize with a main character who cares so little about anything and leaves his friend to die when he's burning to death. It made me want to take a shower back then but now I just sort of shrug when I think about it now. What an utterly pointless book.

    How did that enrich my life? It made me realize that nihilism is a horrible philosophy to drive a story with. So, there's that.

  7. I agree 100% with your feelings on subject matter, and Dan Brown was actually kinda boring in the 1 book I read. I am getting to where if the words "cutting edge" are on the cover or a review I won't buy it.... One pf Brett Easton's books taught me that. Keep up the good work.

  8. I have people tell me how I should read some book or see some movie because it's such a brilliant glimpse at Reality (yes, you can here the uppercase 'R' when they say it). Because, apparently, my own personal reality is insufficiently depressing despite the previous five years including:

    - my wife's bone marrow transplant
    - followed by the replacement of both of her hips
    - my ongoing work with a high-functioning autistic son
    - the death of my mother
    - the suicide of a young man we fostered for five years

    I got all of that reality for free. I'll be damned if I'll pay for some moron's idea of it in my entertainment. That's why I write fun science fiction adventures with heroic heroes and heroines. That's why the movies I see are filling with cool spaceships or explosions or sword fights or gun battles or--true nirvana--all of them.

    I'm also in full agreement with your list of stuff you don't want to see in a book or film.

  9. I actually enjoyed Lord of the Flies when I read it. My English teacher was a raging democrat, feminist, and shop steward of the NEA local. I used LOTF along with animal house, 1984, brave new world, and a couple other antityranny novels to do intelligent rants against socialism, mob tyranny in my papers on the books for English class.

  10. I actually enjoyed Lord of the Flies when I read it. My English teacher was a raging democrat, feminist, and shop steward of the NEA local. I used LOTF along with animal house, 1984, brave new world, and a couple other antityranny novels to do intelligent rants against socialism, mob tyranny in my papers on the books for English class.

  11. Aw, snap. I had totally forgotten about that Vellucci special, MacTeague/Greed, until you reminded me.


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