I wrote a post a while ago about the books I never finished but I have also read quite a few books I may as well not have finished. Amongst these, there were some that I had particularly high hopes for yet they turned out to be not what I was expecting at all – and not in a good way. Here is my list of my biggest literary disappointments:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I read Love in the Time of Cholera and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. But why oh why oh WHY did all the characters have to have almost the exact same names across the generations?! Not knowing who was who really hindered my enjoyment of the book which was otherwise beautifully written. I might be willing to try it again someday but only when I have developed supreme powers of concentration and the ability to decipher a Colombian family tree.
The Gathering by Anne Enright
I have read quite a few of the Booker Prize winners and nominees but ‘The Gathering’ one has got to be among the least memorable. Grief and bereavement are difficult subjects to write about in that it can be hard to get the emotional balance just right but I thought that this book was all atmosphere with no substance. A very tedious read.
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
I am still puzzled by why ‘Amsterdam’ actually won the Booker Prize given that Ian McEwan’s other five Booker Prize-nominated novels were all far superior, especially ‘Atonement’ and ‘Saturday’. I have read almost all of Ian McEwan’s books and have found all of them affecting in some way except for this one which left me a bit cold. No wonder people say that literary awards are meaningless. In this case, it was given to the right person for the wrong book.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I am quite a fast reader but this book took me a long time to finish. I won’t deny that Franzen makes some brilliant observations about human beings and relationships in ‘The Corrections’, but I didn’t think it was a brilliant book. At first, I thought the problem was simply that it was just too long and should have been about 400 pages rather than 650 pages long. However, I don’t think that cutting down the amount of text would have made the characters any more likeable or the book generally any more readable.
Which novels disappointed you?