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In My Bad Books

Michael Carver rescues the nation from some infinitely terrible reads

Written by . Published on September 15th 2011.

In My Bad Books

EVERY once in a while, a book comes our way, which is so ground-breakingly terrible that it almost swings full circle and earns its way into the literary hall of fame. The fact is, these crappy reads are an essential part of life, like bad fashion sense (assless chaps, socks/sandal combos, T-shirts which say 'vintage'), bad music (JLS, anything that comes out of Latvia) and bad television (Big Brother, anything producred by Channel 5).

Here's our pick of the best of the worst, read 'em and weep...

Heartbreaking Work A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers is responsible for McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, which is probably my favourite tri-monthly literature anthology printed in Iceland. However, while he’s excellent at attracting both bright new stars and established veterans alike in a joy of storytelling and cool page layouts, he’s not so brilliant at writing things himself. This book is a sort of memoir about how Eggers parents left him to raise his brother single-handedly, while also propping up an ailing magazine and starring in that terrible telly programme, The Real World. Such a tale told with humility and a hint of a giggle might be a halfway decent read, but where Eggers falls on his bearded face, is his stifling ability to make the whole thing so God damn smug and self-satisfied. I can imagine a whole fleet of Guardian readers, Waitrose pinot grigio in hand, weeping over his struggle at bringing up his (pretty much adult) brother all alone. This book might as well be called A Mindnumbing Work of Staggering Shit; it’s infuriatingly dull and blown further into the infuriatorsphere because Eggers actually thinks he’s got something worth saying. It’s the literary equivalent of a Snow Patrol gig full of overly earnest teachers.

No-One-Belongs-Here-More-Than-You No-one Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
Have you ever wondered what Raymond Carver would read like if he had been a happy-go-lucky half-wit who could only see the very best in people and had the wordcraft of a puppy drunk on fermented joy? Then look no further than this well-intentioned piece of shit. Miranda July, famous for that feel-good indie neon dump, Me, You and Everyone We Know, is essentially a female manifestation of Adam Sandler’s worst overacting. This damn book is all over the place; the woman would be incapable of telling a story straight if the IRA threatened to cut her legs off. Imagine a clumsy rendition of Melancholia filtered through the bones of Mickey Mouse and Goofy and you’re just about there. Romance, difficult families, loneliness – it’s all just about there – clumsily explained and examined in July’s trademark scatterbrained manner. I can imagine a Renée Zelwegger-esque squeek coming out every time July sits there, tapping away with her oversized hands, squeezing out another page of eccentric garbage like a bright, playdough turd. Reading this collection of slim pickings is like sniffing the remnants of a field of dead muppet babies. There’s something cute and lovely in there somewhere, but you can’t make it out for all the offal.


Generation X by Douglas Coupland
If there’s one thing more hated in twentieth century retrospection than the baby boomers, it’s the wretched hellspawn they produced in droves. Those loath’ed thirty-and fourtysomethings known collectively as Generation X: Birkenstock sporting, Neo-liberal, woolly pigs who worship at the altar of Habitat and Apple, in turn churning out ever more vile children called things like Polly and Smeg. It’s not just the utter pointlessness of Generation X that bothers me, it’s the total smug detachment that accompanies their empty existence. Douglas Coupland is somewhat of a champion of the pointless people, having been writing utterly pointless fiction for over two decades now. Generation X was his first, and it’s a shame he got a book deal off the back of it because pretty much everything he’s wrote since has been almost the same book: group of slackers have crappy jobs which they talk shit on but quietly become part of the system they so despise and/or leave it behind and do something inspirationally dull instead. Coupland’s Generation X was hailed as some sort of Monkey Wrench Gang of the early '90s, but those yay-sayers were simply on one hell of a coke comedown and mistook stating the obvious for profundity.


Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk
It’s utterly exhausting not writing a sentence properly. I have no idea how Palahniuk finds the time to put so much punctuation and so little prose into his books. He is the sort of writer that appeals to people who don’t really like reading, as his books tend to be set out more like a conversation in a bar than a novel. By and large, Chuck’s books are bearable, a few of them, like Rant, are actually pretty good. Snuff on the other hand is in the bargain bin of ‘ficshit’, the literary equivalent of a Reader’s Wives letters page. You’d fire off more brain cells reading the ingredients of a toilet roll over and over again for hours on end. Snuff is a perfect example of why contractually-obligated novel writing causes deep aching to intellectual testicles all over the world. It’s all well and good when you want something to read while getting lobotomised, or for something to bite down on while getting your leg amputated without anaesthetic, but it doesn’t really do much to stimulate the imagination. You might as well look at a finger painting of a big, red-headed man stood outside a house half his size drawn by a four year old and try to attach some kind of emotional significance to your own putrid existence.



Clumsy – Jeffrey Brown
Comic books are stupid. They’re full of idiots in bright costumes with dumb names like Superdude and Toucan Lady. They live in a world where science is basically an open book, and common sense gets shot out of the universe by a gun as big as infinity. They have stupid costumes, live in crap, unrealistic cities, and cavort with aliens, demons, ghosts, talking monkey, robots, and so on. In short, comics are a total waste of human effort and time that serve only to make the nation’s youth even more useless than they were to start with. That being said, comic books are a pretty cool waste of time, and can really fuel the imagination with all sorts of shenanigans and wacky goings on, The same cannot be said, however, about the comic books of Jeffrey Brown, who is almost single-handedly making comics more boring than a loud-mouthed discussion of the colour brown between two idiots on a night bus. Rather than shying away from real world problems and writing about robots that can eat planets and space warp time continuums, Brown writes about girls more interesting than himself that have over the years got bored of him and dumped him. I would dump you too Jeffrey Brown, you are a boring sod and you’re killing comic books.

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Joshua LearnerSeptember 15th 2011.

Oh how I love reading a writer with a riveting rant, well done sir.

Casey GillespieSeptember 15th 2011.

Don't hold back, Mike. do tell us how you really feel.

Nicole DalamagasSeptember 15th 2011.

You think you're so funny...

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