Thursday, November 12, 2009

The List: A Readers Guide, Part I, Journey To Suckitude

So I read the Pulitzer list for fiction. This task took me five years. Why so long? Because I have a job. Oh, and don’t say I didn’t warn you, but these books have very few pictures, zero pop-ups, and not one came with a little mirror that you can use to make half a picture whole. Remember those? So, lacking such typical hallmarks of fine literature, the task took me a while. By popular demand I will begin by discussing an elite category of books called “who the fuck voted this prize worthy?” or WTFVTPW? Sure, I should probably start with the good books. I mean how many Pulitzer prize winning works of fiction have I authored? (Three is the answer) Where do I get off passing judgment? (My crotch area is the answer) Anyhoo, we can break down WTFVTPW? into various subcategories, so without further ado let us begin.

The book that almost broke me…
A Fable (William Faulkner): Ugh. I’ve already expressed my supreme dislike for this book, you can read it here. But let’s kick a dead horse some MORE. I couldn’t tolerate more than a few pages at a time of this pontificating crap. Nice title dude. Really? It’s a fable? If it weren’t for the title I would have sworn I was reading the newspaper! The last time I hated a book this much was when I had to read that stupid seagull book in high school.

The year the prize committee was on crack…
1986. Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry): This is just a trashy soap opera. Endless drama set amidst horses, cattle, booze, guns, and all the stereotypical “western” crap you can think of. I know 1986 was a bad year. Case in point: The Golden Girls won an Emmy, that stupid band A-Ha won like a jillion Grammy awards, and the Voyager 2 space probe made its first contact with Uranus— and none of us, including our anuses has ever been the same. The book is enjoyable I guess. But a Pulitzer? C’mon! (and yes I made an Uranus joke)

I’m sorry, but, no…
Beloved (Toni Morrison): This is one of those books I feel like you are supposed to like and admitting you didn’t like it makes you an asshole. But I think it has already been established that I am an asshole, so I’ll just came right out and say this book does not deserve a Pulitzer. There are passages that are great, but you know some nachos are great too but that doesn’t mean you want to eat the burnt cheeseless chips that makeup the vast majority of your nacho platter.
The Shipping News (Annie Proulx): Whaaaaat? No.

Well, I’ll leave it at that for now. Rest assured many of the books were fantastic and it was a pleasure to read them. I'll post some book love soon.

22 comments:

  1. There are passages that are great, but you know some nachos are great too but that doesn’t mean you want to eat the burnt cheeseless chips that makeup the vast majority of your nacho platter.

    Best. Analogy. Ever.

    I'll admit that I have not read any of these books, but I'll take your word that they are not Pulitzer-worthy.

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  2. Oooh, I love lists! I'll have to disagree with you about Beloved (it is a stunning, challenging read), but I agree: the Pulitzer often goes to novels that are just plain odd. Also true of the Nobel in Lit...

    Looking forward to your faves!

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  3. I've recently started reading books from a list. It's one of those lists of "must reads." I decided to take this approach after my book club picked "Flowers in the Attic." Right at the top of the list was The Iliad and The Odyssey. I'm half way through the Iliad and I am ready gouge my eyes out. I hate this book, HATE. IT. It's boring and if I read one more sentence that starts with So-and-so, the son of So-and-so, I might rip the book in half. However, I'm half way through and I hate to not finish a book. At this rate, I might never make it through the list.

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  4. That part about being an asshole up there... FUNNY.

    My computer screen needs cleaning.

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  5. I'm in the back of the class with Annie giggling about uranus and making spitballs.
    jc

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  6. I've always thought life was too short to waste time reading bad books. You've saved me many hours of crap reading with this list, so thanks for sacrificing yourself.

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  7. I have not read The Fable.

    I LOVED Lonesome Dove. I read in my early 20s during my obligatory one-month backpacking trip in Europe. Europe is a great place to read "a trashy [American] soap opera with [e]ndless drama set amidst horses, cattle, booze, guns, and all the stereotypical 'western' crap you can think of.

    And about Beloved? You are one of only three people (including myself) who I have ever heard say a negative word about Toni Morrison's work. I'm glad that I am not alone.

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  8. Oh, and thanks for the sub-list! I look forward to the next one. And I think five years is pretty quick for that list.

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  9. Thank you for helping me feel better about Beloved. Burnt cheeseless chips indeed!

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  10. I can't believe you didn't like Beloved. Shame, shame on you.

    As for Lonesome Dove -- that book is awesome -- a rolicking good read. But, I completely concur: not a Pulitzer. The Prize committee clearly had a collective "thank god it's not a pondorous novel about serious themes" moment. Who can blame them?

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  11. There's no mirror in A Fable? ;) So. Is there a Pulitzer-removal process?

    The Shipping News messed with my ability to write complete sentences for awhile. Also, I saw Annie at a book signing and she was totally rude. And not in a cool I'm A Stoic Northerner kind of way, either. More like I'm Too Awesome To Acknowledge Readers Buying My Books kind of way. Shame.

    Great write up! More, please!

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  12. UGHHHH Beloved.

    Sorry, not a fan.

    And most of Faulkner makes me feel the way you do about the Fable. I KNOW. Heretic, right here.

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  13. Thank God there are others who hate Beloved. I would rather read Flowers in the Attic.

    Why, oh why, must I be condemed for hating a book that, to my knowledge, I am supposed to like strictly becuase the author is a strong, black woman?

    Just becuase Oprah Winfrey has crawled up Toni Morrison's ass and taken up residency, does not mean I shall join her. Oprah--and her suck-ass bookclub--are worshipped by many in my neck of the deep Southern woods. But, if Oprah is a God, she is a God who created "Doctor" Phil. Why would anyone want to worship a God like that? Seriously.

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  14. Whoa, I'm not sure where to start here...but thanks for including your impressions of these books (always fun to hear another opinion), thanks for laughing at the Uranus joke (a constant source of humor from about 4th grade onward) and I'm working on a rundown of the good books.

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  15. My favorite part of the whole post, and it has several lovely moments, are your credentials. Authored three and qualified because of my crotch area. Hilarious. Unless you're serious. Then even more hilarious.
    Thanks for saving me the time. I've felt guilty about not reading some of these (I like Beloved but didn't love it, and haven't read the rest) but will now strike them from my list of "ah, man, do I have to?"

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  16. Okay, your post was hilarious and the ensuing comments are quite amusing as well...

    Who doesn't love a good Uranus joke?

    And I'm about to pee myself at the imagery of "Oprah crawling up Toni Morrison's ass and taking residency"...snort!!

    And you are right about 1986...A-Ha, Golden Girls and Lonesome Dove? Cultural Trash Can!

    The Shipping News was totally boring--I couldn't BELIEVE someone thought that book would make a good film? What were they smoking?

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  17. Hilarious post. I'd like to hear more smackdowns of bad great books and also about why you hated The Shipping News. I did, too, but to hear the reverent critics talk about it, I felt that I'd be spitting on the flag to say so. My issue: creative writing workshop style run amok, so that the sentences read as if you're chewing rocks.

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  18. Ok, I couldn't stick "Beloved" at all.

    "Lonesome Dove" is fabulous! But the book and the miniseries are completely interchangeable...both great fun. Probably not Pulitzer material, though.

    I am a lifelong reader, lover of books! E

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  19. Damn...so cool that you're not.

    What are the three works of fiction that you've written that were Pulitzer-worthy?

    Just curious.

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  20. Dammit, Toni Morrison...at least have the guts to sign-in under your name! "Anonymous," my ass!

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  21. HA! I just saw those last two comments...good one Melyndiana.

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