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The worst book of all time - The Ex-Communicator

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September 19th, 2008


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11:34 pm - The worst book of all time
Today Slacktivist concluded his epic five year blog-deconstruction of the novel Left Behind. A remarkable sustained achievement, making perfect use of the technology. A book of the same content wouldn't have been anything like this. It concludes thus

Left Behind fails as a novel for many, many reasons... the odious lack of empathy it holds up as a moral example... its perverse misogyny, its plodding pace, its wooden dialogue, it fetishistic obsession with telephones, its nonexistent characterization, its use and misuse of cliches, its irrelevant tangents, deplorable politics, confused theology, unintentional hilarities, hideous sentences, contempt for craft, factual mistakes, continuity errors ... its squandering of every interesting premise and its overwhelming, relentless and mind-numbing dullness...

The presence of all of those faults -- in a single book and in such concentrated form -- is more than enough to secure its place on a list of the Worst Books of All Time. ... (but)Left Behind's forceful refutation of its own premise, is what earns this book my vote as the Worst Book of All Time.


It makes me think hard about the relationship between bad writing and bad thinking.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:the_wild_iris
Date:September 20th, 2008 09:09 am (UTC)
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It makes me think hard about the relationship between bad writing and bad thinking.

I've posted before about the imagistic theory on this: bad writing is writing that is untrue, that doesn't come out of the core where the writer perceives things afresh and sets them down honestly. As it wouldn't if one were ghostwriting someone else's millennarianism and, meanwhile, socking away money as fast as one can run to the bank.
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From:communicator
Date:September 20th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
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Yes. I know what you mean. Though that would mean bad writing doesn't always mean bad thinking, it just means the thinking and the writing haven't connected (I don't think this applies to La Hay and Jenkins, who seem horrible through and through).

BTW I think you perform your poetry? I'd love to come over for that some time.
[User Picture]
From:the_wild_iris
Date:September 20th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)
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Though that would mean bad writing doesn't always mean bad thinking, it just means the thinking and the writing haven't connected

If you mean 'bad' in the moral sense, I think I'd agree with this. Ezra Pound (to take an example I'm familiar with) didn't stop being a superb poet when he became a deluded apologist for Fascism; he stopped when he wrote Fascist propaganda, stuff driven by ideas rather than emotion. When he wrote the Pisan Cantos, his personal record of what he felt and thought and remembered while imprisoned for treason, he was still a deluded Fascist but his poetry was true and human again. (Interestingly, Pound was at the centre of a postwar debate in American criticism about whether a writer could, or should, be judged on their moral content.)

BTW I think you perform your poetry? I'd love to come over for that some time.

I occasionally have, but haven't done it for some time. (I haven't written anything for ages, either!) I haven't been very good at commenting recently, but I've enjoyed your posts about the writing group and open mike sessions - they sound great. It's something I'd quite like to go back to if there's an opportunity.

It'd be lovely to see you anytime, whether to read poetry or not. I cook a little and would be glad to make dinner for you and H. :)

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