Thursday, May 28, 2009

If Only I Could "Unread" I Am Charlotte Simmons

Booking Through Thursday this week asks the flip side of last week's question (A Second First Time). This week the question is:
Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?
I'm sure if I thought about it very long, I would probably come up with at least half a dozen dogs that I would prefer to "unread." I'm going to go with the first one that flew into my mind, though, because I really don't think I can top it no matter how long I think about the question. Interestingly, I found this question over at C.B.'s blog where he chose Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities as the book he wished he had never opened. I don't have as low an opinion of that particular Wolfe book, but I find it kind of funny that my choice turns out to be another of Tom Wolfe's novels: I Am Charlotte Simmons.


I am not going to bother with much of a description of the novel's characters or plot. I'll just say that it is a pointless story about modern university life and it is peopled by some of the most despicable characters to ever come together in one book. The point is that there is no point to this novel. The only reason I kept reading, and this is a long book, is that I figured someone like Tom Wolfe just had to have something literary in mind and that it would click with me "any page now." Never happened and, when done, I realized I had just finished reading a poorly written piece of soft porn. The book is garbage - and I only wish I could get those wasted hours back. Tom Wolfe owes me big time.

24 comments:

  1. I probably would like to unread Wally Lamb's newest book The Hour I First Believed. It was 700 plus pages and it was a waste of time. I now have a rule that if I don't like it by 50 or 100 pages, I try to put it down and not finish it. That is really hard for me to do but I have not finished a couple of book before.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, I hate to hear that. I have a crispy copy right on top of my TBR stack where it's been sitting for a few weeks now...not encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've read some real duds in my time, and it is worse when they are long books. Once I start a book, I can't help but feel I must read it through to the very end even when I absolutely hate it. The nice thing about hated books is that they don't stick in my mind as well as good ones do.

    The Lovely Bones comes immediately to mind. I still wish I knew what the plot of this book was. It can be summed up with the sentence: The narrator dies at the beginning of the book and watches from heaven as everyone she knows goes about the business of getting on with their lives. How did this book get published? How did it become a bestseller?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad I've never wanted to read a Tom Wolfe book!!! For me, it would be Wicked! Hated every single moment of it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Lovely Bones" didn't do much for me, Alissa, but I didn't particularly hate it. I was interested in the premise of someone in the after life being able to see what goes on after their death but I figured it would appeal more to young women than any other group.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Staci, I tried "Wicked" but gave up on it. I knew very early on that it was going nowhere for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wicked the book is not very good. Wicked the play is fantastic.

    Anyway, we had so many copies of this book in the bargain department, I almost bought one just to make the stack smaller. They sat there for 3 years before finally ending up in the clearance box.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ouch, you obviously really didn't like this book Sam.

    I enjoyed and was moved by The Lovely Bones (and yes, I'm a young woman). It just clicked with me I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Alchemist is my poison. I have shunned anything, everything by Coelho!]

    I will stay away from Tom Wolfe. However, I did like Wally Lamb's I know This Much is True (pages 890). I just couldn;t put it down after I started it. I have been told The Hour I First Believed is better. I don't know but I am going to read it.

    Booking through Unread

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Gerald's Game," by Stephen King. The scene where he gets out of the handcuffs still turns my stomach and makes me lightheaded and it's been 16 years since I read it. Horrific.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I gave up on "Gerald's Game" before that part - sounds like I might have lucked out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I too hated this book and felt that there went several hours I would never get back.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes! Someone else who hated this book. It was published when I was actually IN college, and as I read it, I wondered where Wolfe was getting his information from about college students these days. And the gratuitous sex scenes? Please.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jen, if books came with that king of guarantee, I would "abandon" far fewer of them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Katherine, to me, the book read as some 13-year-old boy's DREAM about what college life is like. If it had been written by someone other than Tom Wolfe, I wouldn't have hated it so much. It just irks me to see a good writer sink to that level.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I remember seeing "Wicked" in bargain stacks for what seemed like forever, Annie. Apparently its publisher had higher hopes for the book than it deserved.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've yet met someone who really spoke highly of "The Alchemis." Haven't read it myself, but it probably won't be happening based on all the bad word-of-mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mr. Wolfe came up on quite a few blogs. I enjoyed Gerald's Game but it does not pretend to be more than it is, the way Wolfe's novels do. And, I free admit that I read Wicked three times. Loved it. But again, I don't find any pretense at greatness in it, like I kept finding in Bonfire of the Vanities. I think what bothers me most about Wolfe's novel is that he really thinks he has something original to say about life in America. He doesn't. Almost no one does. Give us a good story at least.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would have to say one of the books I most looked forward to and ended up disliking the most is Wally Lamb's newest, The Hour I First Believed. When I wrote my review, I titled the review "The Hour I First Knew I Did Not Like This Book"

    ReplyDelete
  20. I agree with The Lovely Bones and The Alchemist.

    The Lovely Bones didn't bother me until midway through, when she jumped in some girl's body in order to get laid. PLEASE.

    And The Alchemist is such a steaming pile of optimistic tripe that I wouldn't read anything else by Coehlo for all the money in the world.

    grumble grumble

    ReplyDelete
  21. Good point about Mr. Wolfe, C.B. I really think the man should stick to non-fiction. He seems to be more concerned about "image" when it comes to novels - and I'm a little tired of the white suits. Image becomes a boring trap after a while.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ouch, Reader, another negative vote for Lamb's new one. I'm not nearly so anxious to pull that one from my TBR stack now.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'd forgotten that part of the book, Biblioartist. You're right...pretty lame.

    ReplyDelete