Authors you will never read

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Hitler

Rishi don’t lose my voucher (wins), Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:34 (one year ago) link

Bridget Hitler’s Diary

Rishi don’t lose my voucher (wins), Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:43 (one year ago) link

I think David Foster Wallace would be a good candidate for never reading, if one had not yet started reading him.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:45 (one year ago) link

God

pomenitul, Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:53 (one year ago) link

Feel like there's a number of 'you should probably read these dudes in your twenties' dudes (like Kerouac and Hesse) who I haven't read and probably won't get around to now that I'm long past my twenties.

Why does this relates to Yoda? (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:55 (one year ago) link

Tbf both are great midlife crisis reads, especially Hesse.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 5 August 2020 19:56 (one year ago) link

I get what you're saying OL, but honestly it's probably better for your soul to read Kerouac at an age when you can see the gender dynamics clearly and not be influenced by them

rob, Wednesday, 5 August 2020 21:26 (one year ago) link

When I read Updike, I needed a deep cleaning.

OTM. They should put Updike and Billy Collins in a sack with [insert third offender of your choice here] and throw them in the Tiber.

Time Will Show Leo Weiser (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 6 August 2020 02:04 (one year ago) link

great midlife crisis reads, especially Hesse.

Hesse's Steppenwolf is basically a mid-life-crisis-themed book and was written based on his own mid-life insecurities and reactions. Whether it would cast a helpful light on anyone else's mid-life crisis is highly speculative.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Thursday, 6 August 2020 03:49 (one year ago) link

Lol on Roth being CIA:

Enlisted for the army but was exempted for 'special training'. Long association with the neocon faculty of the University of Chicago. Habit in the 80s of 'discovering' writers from the Eastern Bloc, none of whom actually lived there.

— Elvis Buñuelo (@Mr_Considerate) August 5, 2020

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:18 (one year ago) link

I think there's a difference between "authors you are never going to be interested enough to get round to", "authors whose work strongly repels you morally" and "authors you have assumed are going to be terrible and/or don't fit your self-defined personal brand".

The first makes total sense - no one can read everything after all - the second does as well. The third is an impulse to be challenged and interrogated.

Also for real saying you're never going to read JK Rowling or even someone like Ian McEwan is like ostentatiously stating that you've never heard a Coldplay record.

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:28 (one year ago) link

tbf - and i don't disagree with the implied critique of *this* thread and its endless iterations - but on a purely practical note you have to choose to engage with a book in a different way to your potential environmental exposure to music

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:37 (one year ago) link

Dickens
Tolstoy
Bronte

29 facepalms, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:47 (one year ago) link

Is it though? For one it's very hard to avoid hearing a Coldplay song in a shop or in passing (I think that's the only way I've heard this group). And then it's easy to endure 3 minutes. Whereas with a book you can quite easily avoid it as it won't be 'forcefully' put in front of you.

I think your third can also be split. I've been around the block long enough but also am older AND have less energy/patience to put into reading something that I think I know how it's going to go. So assuming that a thing will be terrible is ok? Maybe one day your assumptions will be interrogated.

I agree that don't fit your brand is terrible, but that can be a separate thing that has very much come along with social media? xps

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:52 (one year ago) link

"*this* thread and its endless iterations"

Lol have we done this before with books (I did something like this w/film, on ILF)? My memory has gone to the bin.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:55 (one year ago) link

Also for real saying you're never going to read JK Rowling or even someone like Ian McEwan is like ostentatiously stating that you've never heard a Coldplay record.

Why?

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:55 (one year ago) link

I suppose its the difference between making a point about fiction or music and making a point about oneself, and often not an especially interesting one.

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:56 (one year ago) link

Still don't get it.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Thursday, 6 August 2020 09:58 (one year ago) link

Lol have we done this before with books (I did something like this w/film, on ILF)? My memory has gone to the bin.

i don't think we've done this specific version but it's definitely possible.

and that's fine, it sent me on an internal digression about how we all run down the clock and what difference the way we choose to do that might make, tho i'm personally sure it doesn't, and maybe there was the germ of a conversation in that but most likely it was just me having a woolly head day.

then i got distracted by the pee dream of Mandane and gave it no more thought.

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:00 (one year ago) link

xp srsly Tom since we're coming back to the ways people choose to spend their time the point Matt was making was that Individual X proudly telling the world "I like sausages" and "I hate cabbage" is not the most riveting of conversational gambits

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:03 (one year ago) link

you can develop layers of interest by expanding

I like sausages - because they connect me to the broader inner world of meat products - and I appreciate that because - I feel a greater sense of communion with the outside world - Sausages are one of the best meat products at doing this - cabbage is really bad at it tho - because cabbage is a conservative and a child molester

etc

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:05 (one year ago) link

just liking sausages and hating cabbage tho, what's that? loads of people like sausages. loads of people hate cabbage.

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:06 (one year ago) link

I don't want people to think of me as the kind of person who likes cabbage.

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:09 (one year ago) link

Cabbage is for basic bitches

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:10 (one year ago) link

god imagine being the sort of person that likes cabbage

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:11 (one year ago) link

Or to put it another way, I would straight up interested in reading the Pinefox's take on reading Roth for the first time, or Xyzzz's on Angela Carter, what fits their preconceptions, what surprises them, whether they regret reading them. Some of the best posts on ILB are the Pinefox engaging with Zadie Smith (another novelist you would expect to pop up under this thread's original premise), what he does and doesn't like about her.

Obviously there are thousands of other worthwhile authors to read so no one has to do anything, but "I will never read them" is not interesting unless there's a good reason behind it.

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:18 (one year ago) link

just liking sausages and hating cabbage tho, what's that? loads of people like sausages. loads of people hate cabbage.

― À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 bookmarkflaglink

Aside from the fact I've got more out of eating Cabbage than anything to do with McEwan it sounds more like what we are reacting to is that people aren't giving their reasoning for ever trying something than just the statement that they will never try something.

XP yeah ok

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:22 (one year ago) link

xp srsly Tom since we're coming back to the ways people choose to spend their time the point Matt was making was that Individual X proudly telling the world "I like sausages" and "I hate cabbage" is not the most riveting of conversational gambits

Don't read the thread about liking or not liking sausages then.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:26 (one year ago) link

well yeah that's where i come back round to the "equally valid forms of pishing the time away" thought

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:29 (one year ago) link

TBF I have been listing some of the assumptions (based on output in literary magazines, or a critic is often a bad practicioner of the thing they are paid to write about) but assumptions is all they can ever be because, as the thread says, engagement will not occur.

wrt McEwan is the guy's pronouncements and how he comes across.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:35 (one year ago) link

I'm not sure that 'I won't read x', minus much further reasoning, is much worse than a lot of ILB which is 'I am reading x'.

I think 'I will never read x' is an OK premise for one thread because it goes against the general idea that 'reading is good' in a positive-thinking Guardian-review-section way. It's maybe a useful challenge to have an 'against reading' space.

I think one can give reasons for not reading, but it's a bit of a paradox as someone can always say: well, you need to read it to find out what it's really like.

I think it makes some sense to say: I've read this and I advise others not to bother - as I am somewhat tempted to do with DFW.

Like XYZ I don't see the parallel with Coldplay, for the reasons he states. Reading a whole J.K. Rowling novel sounds like a big effort. I have not read one. I certainly don't intend to read her children's books, but TBH I am slightly attracted by the idea of reading her adult books - thus wouldn't rule her out. I actually have a fond memory of seeing THE CASUAL VACANCY on BBC TV! This was, I suppose, some time after Adam Mars-Jones' harsh review of the novel.

Most of us have now heard Coldplay at some point but how many of us have heard a whole LP, or know any tracks beyond a few big hit 45s?

It's very generous of DC to say that he'd be interested in a post for me (but I don't intend to post about Roth, of course), and especially that he liked my ZS posts. re the latter I *think* he must mean my reading of NW, which was earlier this year and which, on the whole, I really admired. It's true that this is a writer about which I have mixed feelings - in the odd sense that I think she has produced bad books and good books: WHITE TEETH I think is bad and ON BEAUTY tremendous! I have SWING TIME waiting to read so I hope one day to interest DC in reporting on that!

the pinefox, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:41 (one year ago) link

Specifically I think it was your posts on On Beauty actually. But I'm saying this because ZS is exactly the sort of author that people write off without having read (although I don't recall you ever doing this).

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:43 (one year ago) link

Also for real saying you're never going to read JK Rowling or even someone like Ian McEwan is like ostentatiously stating that you've never heard a Coldplay record.

― Matt DC, Thursday, August 6, 2020 11:28 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

Lol, no. I will never read anything by JK Rowling because the very idea of Harry Potter bores me to tears.

Also: Tolkien, George RR Martin and all that trite fantasy shit. Thing is: it's easy if you try, to avoid seeing the movies, series and reading the books!

Scampidocio (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:43 (one year ago) link

My superficial engagement w/ Harry Potter - knowing a few of the character names and the very basic plot points - is p much on a par w/ my superficial engagement w/ Coldplay - have heard the big hit singles, nothing else.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 6 August 2020 10:48 (one year ago) link

wrt McEwan is the guy's pronouncements and how he comes across.

I've got no interest in reading authors who are part of the whole smug, self-congratulatory, incestuous English literary establishment, that might be mistaken but that's how it is.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:00 (one year ago) link

Lol, no. I will never read anything by JK Rowling because the very idea of Harry Potter bores me to tears.

Also: Tolkien, George RR Martin and all that trite fantasy shit. Thing is: it's easy if you try, to avoid seeing the movies, series and reading the books!

Same here. Add Tolkien to the list.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:00 (one year ago) link

But how do we know that eg: G.R.R. Martin is bad?

It does sound trite to me, but maybe it's actually well done? I don't know - have never read a word nor seen a minute of the TV programme.

I think it makes sense to say 'I'll never read him' but not so much sense to be certain that he's bad, without reading him.

I fear that I am coming round to DC's position!

the pinefox, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:06 (one year ago) link

Tolkien is very good as children's fiction - THE HOBBIT a key book for me, as for many, at the age of perhaps 8. Lovely stuff.

So I can't dismiss that either.

the pinefox, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:07 (one year ago) link

There is no certainty of course. Ian McEwan might turn out to be excellent. Lots of shitty people are writers I enjoy, after all. But he is in a class of what Bernhard would call a state approved novelist.

I will list out more of my assumptions later.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:15 (one year ago) link

But how do we know that eg: G.R.R. Martin is bad?

It does sound trite to me, but maybe it's actually well done? I don't know - have never read a word nor seen a minute of the TV programme.

I cannot know if he's a bad writer. I shan't equate "will never read" with "it's a bad writer", but fantasy, hobbits and elfs and whatnot bore, nay actively annoy me. It's just not for me. I'm dismissing a whole genre here and I feel fine.

It's different for me to say I'd never read McEwan of Franzen (I've read both but they were mentioned above); I'd at least have to have read *something* in order to be put off imo. Though public appearance increasingly takes care of that, I suppose.

Scampidocio (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:16 (one year ago) link

The Rowling/Coldplay comparison to me works more in that it's pretty much taken as a given that the sort of person who posts on lit threads on ILX won't be interested in Rowling, much as it's a given that yr average ILM poster will have no time for Coldplay.

I get what you're saying OL, but honestly it's probably better for your soul to read Kerouac at an age when you can see the gender dynamics clearly and not be influenced by them

To be fair to Kerouac one of the things that I remember from reading On The Road is the passage where he visits a couple and the woman is so pissed off that her dude is going off on some shenanigans, and he has this moment of going "oh wow all of us dudes are treating women like shit for the sake of our kicks, huh?". Not that that makes him change his ways in any way, but dude does spell it out.

Anyway, I'm with treeship. I will eventually have read all authors, much as I will eventually have seen all films and listened to all music, for scientific purposes.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:33 (one year ago) link

It goes without saying that even if you are the most widely-read person in the world, there will be many, many more authors you haven't read and never will than those you have.

So when you're singling an author our as someone you will never read, you're talking about yourself rather than the author really. "I don't enjoy fantasy/sci-fi/horror" is an honest appraisal of your tastes (you might watch a film in those genres obviously, but watching a film is a lot less time and effort-intensive than reading).

"I won't read this person because I think of them as a state-approved novelist" DOES feel like personal brand-building, or wearing a badge of honour, especially because it throws open a load of complications and contractions. (Who is a state approved novelist in modern day Britain? Is there anyone who ISN'T? How many excellent novelists that the person in question enjoys and rates are also state-approved novelists?) etc etc.

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:41 (one year ago) link

Even novelists I'd feel naturally dismissive of, I'd need to see at least an extract first. I read a page of Sally Rooney expecting to completely hate it, but I'll give her this - she captures internet dialogue really well. She should write an online epistolary novel; I'd totally read that

imago, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:43 (one year ago) link

Also if you're defining yourself against something ideologically then it helps to engage and understand it. I've never read Ayn Rand and am 99% sure I would hate her and maybe reading her becomes more necessary b/c her badness is so widely influential on a lot of people's thought?

Granted there are few similar imperatives for reading, say, Ian McEwan, who I have read and even when he's good is pretty much straight-down-the-line literary fiction. (Although you could perhaps get something more out of him approaching him as, say, a thriller writer).

Matt DC, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:51 (one year ago) link

lol I feel like there's a divide in this thread between people who've already read McEwan and Rowling (hi!) and those who haven't and are feeling extremely smug about it

imago, Thursday, 6 August 2020 11:57 (one year ago) link

co lol Matt I was going to ask whether you had read McEwan.

State-approved is a tad obscure a reason to be deemed as brand-building to me.* But in terms of what it involves there is a class of novelist that gets a lot more light on them, who are published more easily and get onto the literary prize ladder too so what they actually write gets obscured. In someone who is good and attracts that kind of attention I'd expect the writing to come through at some point, but in this case it has not.

* wrt Bernhard it's ironing because he got every prize in the German language world.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 12:00 (one year ago) link

co = XP lol autocorrect

"Even novelists I'd feel naturally dismissive of, I'd need to see at least an extract first."

Lol to be young!

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 6 August 2020 12:01 (one year ago) link

Interesting thread.

Pom, I won't read 'Hatred of Poetry' because the premise seems... factually incorrect, and also rather disingenuous of Lerner to write a screed against the very thing that got him to where he is. He certainly didn't get where he is by being a good teacher, by all accounts.

I've never read Roth, or Rowling, and never read more than an Oates story or two.

Much of what is considered mainstream literary fiction bores me to tears, so I dismiss much of it outright when I probably shouldn't. Evidence is my recent realization of my love for Alice Munro.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Thursday, 6 August 2020 12:14 (one year ago) link

Also re yr comment, for the past few years, poetry book sales have been increasing at a rapid clip, so while it's drops in the bucket numbers-wise, I'm not so sure that poets are universally ignored in the way that you characterize. Not that I'm big on being valued by a disgusting and depraved society, but y'know...

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Thursday, 6 August 2020 12:17 (one year ago) link

it’s fun to imagine nabokov composing his tweets on index cards and then passing them off to someone else to post

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 16 February 2021 17:28 (nine months ago) link

Lol, sinkah

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 16 February 2021 17:28 (nine months ago) link

xp Véra no doubt

John Wesley Glasscock (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 16 February 2021 17:32 (nine months ago) link


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