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Name a book or author that you truly wanted to love but left you disappointed. (And, of course, explain why.)

Two books on a roll disappointed me this year. I have followed the advice of friends and readers to read Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, which had been recommended to me at least 10 times. Even the clerk at the bookstore paused to comment on how much she enjoyed the book during check-out. I delayed reading it because I wanted to save the treat for later knowing how good it would be. I was disappointed. The plot can jump from one story to another without enough transition. It is a disturbing book with aching believability and raw language—but not unique; I would not be as underwhelmed if people haven’t sung praises with such solicitude.

Having not read Bret Easton Ellis, my expectation mounted high for Less Than Zero. It is a very disturbing novel with this incessant cycle of relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs. The moral entropy documented in the book might be exaggerated, but it is very much aligned with the vain and corrupted personalities that populate the reality shows on television nowadays. Ellis intentionally creates a merry-go-around of cast that, other than spending too much money on everything, roaming mindlessly in wee hours, parading from one party to the next, is unforgettable , not for who they are but for what they do, because they are without substance. I know it really livens up that lost generation of 70s and 80s and many people have resonated with the book, to me it’s an utter disappointment.

10 Responses

  1. I suppose I am fairly easy to please, because I rarely have much disappointment. I’ve had a couple this summer that I really didn’t like, but my expectations were not that high either. Sometimes I wish I had more disappointments. I’m beginning to think I’m easy!

    • I think I won’t be as bummed if the book(s) haven’t been recommended to me on numerous occasions. The worst case is I pay full price for a book that totally doesn’t live up to my expectation.

  2. Bastard was a waste of time/money and Less Than was more than disturbing, in my humble opinion. Love seeing all the book shots … especially Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and Diane Setterfield. I’ll be back…

    • I was glad I read Less Than Zero, but that was all I could say about the book. Bastard Out of Carolina is way,. way, way overhyped!

  3. You’re going to hate me for this one, but my biggest disappointment this year was Home by Marilynne Robinson. Coincidently, I found myself reading this one at the same time you were. I had come to expect so much from Orange Prize winners, but I found myself completely underwhelmed by this one. While the characters were well written and very believable, I found myself waiting and waiting for something, no, make that anything, to happen. It never did!

    • I actually like Home a lot because Robinson takes time to unfold the family secrets that have caused tension over years. It’s a melodrama that pans into the heart and emotion of each family member.

  4. Funny, I forgot how much I enjoyed Bastard Out of Carolina until I read this post! I think my biggest disappointment was The Time Traveler’s Wife. The Scarlet Letter was also pretty disappointing as I read it because I enjoy Hawthorne’s short stories so much.

    • I remember reading The Time Traveler’s Wife because everyone—even my co-worker and friends who don’t read—was pursuing the book! The warped time was interesting premise but at the end the book was really nothing to call home about. But the book blogging community was completely at odds with me judging from the avid longing for her second book.

  5. I really love American Psycho, and I also enjoyed The Rules of Attraction, so I’ll be interested to see whether I like Less Than Zero.

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