January 07, 2005

Shelves O' Shame

Kathy the Cake Eater has turned the latest book meme around a bit and asks us all to confess to ten authors on our bookshelves of whom we are embarrased.

This proved a bit more complicated than I had expected. For one thing, I obviously can't go after the kids' books. For another, I can't go after the Missus'. She has quite a collection, including some solid heavyweights such as Flannery O'Conner, Eudora Welty and Ellen Gilchrest, but also a number of authors who I strongly suspect of writing pure chick lit. However, since I haven't read them, I can't comment. (Nonetheless, if she thinks I don't know about that copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, she's got another thing coming.)

Anyhoo, here is my list. It's made up of authors I shamefully enjoy as well as authors I hate. (I simply cannot bring myself to toss books out, so once a book arrives on my shelf it stays there.) I'm putting it in the extended section so I can offer commentary as well. Are you ready? Here we go.....

1. Tom Clancy - I enjoy Clancy's books, although I'm ashamed to admit it. He writes exactly like what he is - a middle-aged insurance salesman who never gave up a childhood fondness for playing soldier. From what I gather, his technical information is supurb. But his character development tends to make me laugh in places I'm not sure it's supposed to.

2. Jeff Shaara - Not to be confused with his father Michael. It's awful enough to plagiarize your own father's style and substance. It's even worse to generate third-rate hack work as a result.

3. Ann Coulter - As I often say, I read Coulter for entertainment purposes only. Having said that, she can be awfully entertaining.

4. James Fenimore Cooper - Blowhard extraordinaire.

5. Jacque Derrida - French blowhard extraordinaire. And there aren't even any bloodthirsty Indians. A leftover from school days.

6. "The Great Life" by Men's Journal - I ordered this by mistake from Amazon thinking it was something by P.J. O'Rourke when, in fact, he only wrote an introduction. The book is a compendium of what the mag trade thinks are hot "guy" topics. It strikes me more as a compendium of secret guy insecurities.

7. Eric Hobsbawm - Marxist historian (meaning he's a Marxist, not that he wrote about Marx). Another leftover from school. But since I went to the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown Connecticut, you can bet he was on a lot of history profs' reading lists.

8. Roberto Calasso - Probably the single most pretentious author on my shelf. Of his The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Gore Vidal had this to say: "I have no idea whether Roberto Calasso is a 'genius' but I do know that The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is a perfect work like no other. He has re-created, in a blaze of light, the morning of our world: the gods, heroes, monsters of the Greeks are made mysterious sense of in what is, finally, a numinous text to be placed beside - ahead of? - Old and New Testaments." 'Nuff said.

9. "The Fluff Shelf" - I've got a pack of harmless books put out by people like Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Paul Reiser. AND of Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes collections. For when I've had enough of Roberto Calasso.

10. Sylvia Plath - Yup, she was a loon.

Special Bonus Book O' Shame: It's not actually on my shelf, but every time we go up to the Missus' grandmother's beach house, I flip through her battered old copy of Harold Robbins' The Betsy. You have not truly plumbed the depths of bad writing until you try Harold Robbins.

Posted by Robert at January 7, 2005 12:36 PM

If you really have such a fond attachment for bad books, consider donating them to our military overseas. Ge em out of the house and know they went to a better place.

Posted by: babs at January 7, 2005 12:48 PM

Babs got it right on...except that the military doesn't like large heavy cardboard boxes floating around Baghdad.

I am amused, however, with the thought of Sylvia Plath in the hands of violent extremists. Makes me chuckle.

Posted by: Vic Barry (former regional rock star) at January 7, 2005 01:12 PM

Some Doonesbury collections

** hangs head in shame **

Posted by: steve at January 7, 2005 01:38 PM

Eric Hobsbawn? No E.P. Thompson as a companion. Or Antonio Gramchi? For shame.

Posted by: The Maximum Leader at January 7, 2005 02:55 PM

Robert B. Parker.
The "Spenser" stuff; not the other crap.

My paperback crack.

Posted by: TC@LeatherPenguin at January 7, 2005 05:37 PM

Donate them, or sell them to a used bookstore, in order to have money to buy more books.

Posted by: owlish at January 7, 2005 05:39 PM

And HEY!, Doonesloone?

I amp you "Bloom County" and raise the bet with "Opus, Alone."

"Doonse-buried" is what it needs to be called.

And we welcome Penguin Ripp! fans.

Yip! Yip!

We will turn you all into to chum.

Posted by: TC@LeatherPenguin at January 7, 2005 05:43 PM

Sylvia Plath? You're ashamed of Sylvia?

Posted by: Rae at January 7, 2005 11:34 PM

I may be a *french* blowhard, but at least I know what 'soup du jour' means, you American caveman!

Posted by: Jacque Derrida at January 8, 2005 01:49 AM




The what on earth do you pile in the corners?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at January 8, 2005 03:13 PM

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Posted by: diane lane at July 18, 2005 09:24 PM
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