Tag Archives: crap

SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas

SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas: Why are manifestos so often written by crazies? This 50-page anti-male screed by the woman most famous for shooting Andy Warhol is, well, kind of hard to read. I can ignore the man hatred – that’s a matter of opinion – but many of her suggestions for improving the world are simply batty. First, that her notion of communism would work. It’s inconceivable that all the people of the world would work together towards Solanas’s idea of the common good. Second, “automation” does not mean zero work. Machines must be created and maintained. (Of course, I suppose Solanas would expect men to take care of this.) Third, old age is not a disease, and scientists do not hold the secret to immortality. That’s patently absurd. If they did, don’t you think these supposedly selfish and insecure men would have made themselves immortal by now? So in short, while this was a reasonably entertaining read in parts purely for the novelty factor, it’s not something I would recommend. They’re not dangerous ideas, merely nonsensical ones.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux: I get the distinct impression that had this book not been made into a fabulously popular musical, it would have been largely forgotten. The writing is largely dreadful, with long passages of dialogue consisting mainly of people repeating themselves and each other. Meh.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Somebodies and Nobodies by Robert W. Fuller

Somebodies and Nobodies by Robert W. Fuller: I’m afraid I need to rename this The Book of the Big Duh. It’s nothing but 180 pages of painfully obvious statements presented as if they were uncommonly insightful observations. This book introduces the concept of rankism, which is basically a general term for all forms of groundless bias, including (but not limited to) racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia. Anyone can be a victim of rankism, even rich white men, and it’s bad for not only self-esteem but productivity as well. Whenever you treat someone poorly because you feel more important in some way (socially, for instance), they pass along the indignity to someone lower than them, and so it continues on down the line. Everyone is a somebody in certain aspects of his/her life and nobodies in others. Everyone wants recognition, and some people will go to drastic measures to get it. The solution is not to do away with ranking systems all together, but rather to treat others with dignity and allow them more control over their own lives so they never get pigeonholed as a loser, both to others and in their own minds.

Which are simply not groundbreaking ideas.

I am sad to live in a society where this book was viewed as necessary. Stand up for yourself when you’re wronged, but being disrespected does not give you license to disrespect others. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Why do we need an official movement? Why not just put it into practice in our own lives?

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Wild Animus by Rich Shapero

Wild Animus by Rich Shapero: I want to say something nice about this book, but I’m having trouble. I will admit that heavy drug-usage and self-centered obsession with finding oneself are not things I can relate to, but that was the least of my complaints. The prose was overwrought with awkward metaphors and obscure adjectives, so bad that I could just see the author congratulating himself on his cleverness and originality. The dialogue was so forced that it made soap operas sound Oscar-worthy. The description was so flowery that it interfered with the story, making the narration clunky and hard to follow. The story itself took leaps and bounds through time, skipping over massive amounts of necessary exposition, transition, and even conversation – I lost count of the times two people would say meaningless sentences and then the text would say that they understood exactly what the other meant. That’s fine, but I the reader was still completely lost, and after a while I stopped caring.

The characters evoked exactly no sympathy whatsoever: they’re overemotional and completely irrational. The story revolves around Sam, a disillusioned Berkeley student in the late 1960s who has a strange obsession with rams and little concern for anything or anyone else but his own desires. His wife Lindy is a complete doormat, working a deadend job to fund her husband’s drugs and solo trip to Alaska to research his book, incidentally called Wild Animus. The second she starts standing up for herself and asking, ever so timidly, that Sam (now called Ransom for some reason) make any effort in their relationship whatsoever, she breaks down crying and begs forgiveness for being such a bitch. She breaks down crying almost every scene she’s in, come to think of it. Every character is constantly on the verge of an emotional collapse or breakthrough, which usually happens (the first time) very soon after the introduction of the character (then several times again after that). I wonder if everyone in the author’s world is of weak emotional character except, of course, Ransom, who shows no emotions whatsoever.

It’s a train wreck of poor writing. Even the bolded sections, which I guess were supposed to be spiritual chants, were of the literary quality of your average 15-year-old would-be poet. For a few chapters it was funny, then it became tedious, then annoying. I labored on, telling myself I wanted to finish it so I could write a thorough and fair review, but then I realized that the only reason I was still reading was because the prologue strongly implied that Ransom would die by the end of the book. I ultimately decided – about halfway through the book – that such drivel was not worth my time when the only thing I had to look forward to was the offing of the main character, which would doubtless be as poorly written, uninspired, and pointless as the rest of the story.

Originally posted on Bookcrossing.

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