Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 3, 2011 - 6:28pm

Vampire driven novels can suck my neck.

What boils your blood?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 3, 2011 - 6:38pm

Frat boy lit.  Stories of the "I was so drunk" nature followed by zaaaaaaaaaaaaaany misadventures.

.'s picture
. October 3, 2011 - 6:42pm

Celebrity autobiographies. Though I've never actually read one.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 3, 2011 - 6:43pm

Purple prose in which the thoughts run across the page like dreamy rivers of misty memories, where misappropos similes color the corners of my darkening gray matter until meaning becomes rust and the message is lost in... oh well, I forgot what I was going to say, and it wouldn't matter anyway.

THAT, and like, totally passive voice.

 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 3, 2011 - 6:44pm

plotless bullshit.

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 4, 2011 - 5:14am

@Brandon - Agree.  Everybody's stories are intense when friends and alcohol are involved.

This is a pretty recent dislike, but I'm getting quite sick of love stories, any stories involving a section where one character spends anymore than a couple sentences of dramatic monologue about how they're in love or what love feels like.  If a character's in love I should be able to see it.  It's a simple show don't tell thing, but it's like so many writers still feel like writing about love will touch every reader with fairy wands of magic and whimsy. 

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers October 4, 2011 - 7:16am

@Chorlie. The problem with Vampires is Anne Rice. She screwed the pooch by making them more human and giving them human emotions. I prefer the Rotting-Corpse-That-Needs-Blood-To-Survive-And-Dammit-I'm-Going-To-Fucking-Live variety, which is severely lacking in literature at this time. No one gives a shit that blood suckers were once people. They're not people now, and they should be fully portrayed that way. They are demonic creatures that follow the principle of Insect Politics.

Sorry to rant but my main writing project is a Vampire/Noir series and I'm a little protective of the genre, at least protective of how I think it should be written.

 

CJ Roberts's picture
CJ Roberts from Salem, MA is reading goodreads.com/cjroberts_dmm October 4, 2011 - 10:43am

Re-Dressed philosophies. I am of an overwhelmed dislike when I consider all the pansy pauper to prince self-help "gurus" that have taken ideas and philosophies, changed some names, added flair and voila - NYT Bestseller.

Incomprehensible historic fiction. Authors jam packing antiquated language into a book for the sake of either authenticity of sheer inane pomposity. I don't know. Either way it certainly drives me "steaming" mad when I'm reading a modern book that is half way to rotten with linguistic phrasings I need a Middle English dictionary to understand.

Children's books that presume children are idiots and need ludicrous plot devices to "keep them entertained." Again thick with incomprehensible language or just trying WAY to hard to create a mythic canon of crazy name structures and unique back story for common creatures. More often than not they just "fowl" up the whole thing.

Puns.

No, I'm lying about that last one. I love puns. Sorry.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 4, 2011 - 10:49am

vampires

people who purposely try to be witty/offensive/weird and it doesnt add to shit

overuse of adverbs

constant name-brand-droppers

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 4, 2011 - 10:57am

@jacks_username and SappleScoot -ahahahahaha 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 4, 2011 - 10:57am

"began" before any verb - drives me round the bend.

He began walking - just walk already!!! how much preparation do you need!

 

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 4, 2011 - 11:32am

Celebrities who write "fiction" that is so clearly based on their lives.  That dumbass Nicole Ritchie, "The Truth about Diamonds" and that moron from the Hills.  If you want a great laugh, skim them in a book store.  The writing is so bad that it's painful.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 4, 2011 - 11:39am

Don't forget Snooki with A Shore Thing.

You get it?  It's a play on words.  See, normal people say "a sure thing" as a turn of phrase, and then Snooki is on The Jersey Shore, but here's what's cool--SHE COMBINED THEM!

I mean, can you believe that shit?

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 4, 2011 - 1:15pm

1, If you're gonna write first person, sound like that person should.  Even when you're feeling like a literary genius, don't sound like a writer unless your MC is one.

2, Characters that are writers.

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 4, 2011 - 1:23pm

A frequent trend that I see in journals and magazines are these pieces that don't appear to have a plot, but make up for it with obscure self-importance.  Mirthless, dreary moments that don't offer enough explanation as to exactly what is happening or why.

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray October 4, 2011 - 2:05pm

I hate bland characters, sluggish writing and consisten use of 'going off topic' methods. Stephen King does that alot but it's usually funny so he gets a pass. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 4, 2011 - 3:05pm

@Dr Gonzo: yessir on both counts.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 4, 2011 - 3:09pm

@gonzo: i agree, and i have spent years adjusting my voice to fit my average-lived-characters, but its always weird and fun to come up with new mannerisms and coloquialisms for every one of them. and that (in my mind) is what makes them unique within my writing.

Anthony David Jacques's picture
Anthony David J... from The Internet is reading two or three books at once. October 4, 2011 - 3:54pm

@Phil: Totally agree. 

Also, people who "experiment" with form and structure and when it doesn't make sense, somehow it's your fault. If you're too artistic and awesome and eulisve and nuanced for readers to have any clue what you're writing about or why, it's your fault. Take some responsibility. 

Also, ghostwriters that pen other people's autobiographies. If you're a celebrity earning millions and then you get offered basically free money for a book deal, either write your own fucking book or don't release one. No one is really important or busy enough to justify having someone else write their own life' story. 

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 5, 2011 - 1:07am

@charles, I've read some of your stuff and it's paid off.  You've got a great voice.

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 5, 2011 - 6:12am

@ Phil - Half the literary magazines I find have that sort of writing.  I call it "absent" because the writing is always great but there's never anything else there.  It's just...words, on a page, arranged in a neat way.  But then the editors publish it so I keep asking myself if there's something I'm oblivious to. 

Maybe that's the important stuff I missed out on when I quit university.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 5, 2011 - 6:20am

@Phil & Bekanator:

I agree with you. The whole thing seems rather masturbatory.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 5, 2011 - 8:58am

@gonzo: were you in the clevenger intensive, then? cause i havent had anything published anywhere in ages. so good memory, and im flattered... since im not sure where you read me

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 5, 2011 - 10:18am

@Charles, Nothing like that, pal.  I've not really spent much time in places like this.  I had an on-off relationship with The Cult, and I've spent a bit of time on another site that's a bit tame....

I've just noticed your style from the couple of things you've posted on here--the Flash thread, maybe, and the 500 words you posted the other day.  You don't need to see a lot to know if someone's got a good handle on voice.  A line can be like an oven blast to the face if the writer knows their shit.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 5, 2011 - 10:48am

There's another Phil. My life has ended.

Daniel Brophy's picture
Daniel Brophy from Taunton, MA is reading The Power of One October 5, 2011 - 5:56pm

No problem with vampires, if they're done right. Vampires used to be cool. Remember John Carpenter's Vampires? Love that movie, despite it's cheesiness. The vampire fad will dim and return to it's earthy roots one day.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 5, 2011 - 6:09pm

"Let the Right One In" was the first vampire film I've seen in a while that was genuinely creepy. I think it has more to do with Sweden than the story.

Anthony David Jacques's picture
Anthony David J... from The Internet is reading two or three books at once. October 5, 2011 - 9:06pm

Goddamit, I started watching that one the other day and then the wife got home early. She hates scary movies in general and I am in such need of a good creepy flick these days.

I was this close....

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers October 5, 2011 - 10:47pm

@Anthony David Jacques: I started watching that one the other day and then the wife got home early. She hates scary movies in general and I am in such need of a good creepy flick these days.

 

I was this close....
 

Watch it. It's a great film. Then read the book, it's even better.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 6, 2011 - 6:19am

Also, people who "experiment" with form and structure and when it doesn't make sense, somehow it's your fault. If you're too artistic and awesome and eulisve and nuanced for readers to have any clue what you're writing about or why, it's your fault. Take some responsibility.

Well, not really. There are writers who ARE too awesome and elusive and nuanced for most readers. Why does reading have to be democratic?

The Sound and the Fury seemed incomprehensible to the reviewers who didn't simply ignore it. How many people can completely honestly say they simply read that book without needing ANY kind of clarification as to the structure?

There's a weird aversion to difficulty in literature, and it doesn't make sense. In an essay that I otherwise find a bit precious, there's a fantastic thing Jeanette Winterson says:

It is impossible to legislate taste, and if it were possible, it would be repugnant. There are no Commandments in art and no easy axioms for art appreciation. 'Do I like this?' is the question anyone should ask themselves at the moment of confrontation with the picture. But if 'yes', why 'yes'? and if 'no', why 'no'? The obvious direct emotional response is never simple, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the 'yes' or 'no' has nothing at all to do with the picture in its own night.

'I don't understand this poem'

'I never listen to classical music' 'I don't like this picture'

are common enough statements but not ones that tell us anything about books, painting, or music. They are statements that tell us something about the speaker. That should be obvious, but in fact, such statements are offered as criticisms of art, as evidence against, not least because the ignorant, the lazy, or the plain confused are not likely to want to admit themselves as such. We hear a lot about the arrogance of the artist but nothing about the arrogance of the audience. The audience, who have not done the work, who have not taken any risks, whose life and livelihood are not bound up at every moment with what they are making, who have given no thought to the medium or the method, will glance up, flick through, chatter over the opening chords, then snap their fingers and walk away like some monstrous Roman tyrant. This is not arrogance; of course they can absorb in a few moments, and without any effort, the sum of the artist and the art.

That encapsulates it perfectly. 

Alessio Patanè's picture
Alessio Patanè from sicily is reading Winesburg, Ohio by S. Anderson October 6, 2011 - 12:52am

I'll take one of yours

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 6, 2011 - 6:15am

@Phil: thank you and well summed up

Dave Sim complained in more general terms that our society (he's Canadian,but I'm pretty sure he includes the USA - beyond that I have no idea) has shifted its importance from thinking to feeling. How do you feel about this painting? This book? This politician?

Feeling's all well and good, but is no substitute for the intellect, and neither one by itself is a substitute for both.

"Finnegan's Wake" may be a work of genius, but there's now way I'm going to suffer through it.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 7, 2011 - 2:35am

The general tendency, as far as I can judge, is one of vulgarization. A great work of art, whatever that may be, seems to need the approval of even its least-informed audience if it's going to be legimitately great.

There's a definite need for vulgarization. A work of popular philosophy is not, of necessity, a bad thing simply because it's not an impenetrable jargon-riddled tome. But so many of us seem incapable of accepting that maybe, if we don't "get" a text, it's not because the text is a) pretentious, b) utter shit, or c) overrated. And I find this laughable, sad, and a little unsettling. The implication is that unless you can give some simple, pseudo-positivistic account of what a text is "about", the text is nonsense or badly written or pretentious or elitist. A strange conclusion.

I admit that I struggle with what is typically considered a very difficult novel: "The Recognitions" by William Gaddis. The quality of the writing, by the way, is recognizably mind-blowing, and the intelligence that the novel suggests is enormous. But I haven't been able to finish it, because it required an immense effort that I couldn't motivate myself to summon. So I finished the first third and then stopped. I hope to pick it up again soon.

I almost gave up on Gravity's Rainbow. I started it when I was eighteen, understood very little of it, and put it down. I have since reread it several times, and wrote a 10,000 word essay on it as an undergraduate — because once I put in the effort, and did my homework, and opened up a little bit, I realized it's a wonderful thing to read.

I almost gave up on Absalom, Absalom! because it was so challenging. But I pulled through it and liked it so much that I reread it, and based one of my albums on it.

I almost gave up on The Phenomenology of Spirit. Anyone who tells you it's a fun read, or their favorite book, is lying. But having put in the time and the academic work required of anyone who wants to understand something about Hegel, I can say at least two things: that it's often rewarding, and that it's surprisingly helpful. I would never have read it if I hadn't had to for my MA. It's an impossibly difficult and long work. But it pays off. The difficulty is part of the satisfaction.

Nobody needs to read Absalom, Absalom or Gravity's Rainbow. But the stupefying thing is that some people refuse to accept that they have simply not put in the required time and effort to come to grips with the text. It's as though their pride were on the line. They seem to suffer from that "emperor's new clothes" syndrome: they want to be the child pointing out what everyone should already know. These are the people I do not want to associate with.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 7, 2011 - 4:51am

@Phil - I gotcha. This attitude may go hand in hand with being spoon-fed the lowest common denominator for too long.

I usually encounter it wrt film where the criticism is that the film isn't "realistic" - not meaning there's a lack of internal consistency, but that it isn't true to life. or to expectations maybe.

A friend of mine recounted  a trip across the US. He stopped off at a random roadside diner, and read while he was waiting. The waitress asked him, "what are ya reading for?" He wasn't sure how to answer, so she turned to one of the customers and announced, "looks like we got ourselves a reader."

I think he left as soon as possible.

the point being that there is a certain value placed on the passivity of entertainment. The story entertains, and we absorb it. Folks who don't want stories to make them think (or challenge or engage them I suppose), but to allow them to escape.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 7, 2011 - 1:47pm

Phil, I totally agree with what you are saying, mainly that of course giving up on something that is too dense or incoherent (but good) reflects badly on the person reading, not on that work. Faulkner is a prime example - and I absolutely adore him. I would say the same about Heidegger (I don't adore him) and the more recent crazy French philosophers like Derrida or Lacan (I do like them...sorry...). Many people dismiss postmodernist lit and theory because it doesn't make sense in a traditional way. Of course, if you don't put time and effort into something that's not straightforward, the easy way out is to simply blame it on the text/writer and say it's not worth anyone's time. Lacan actually likened the moment of "getting it" when reading a more difficult text to an orgasm of sorts. Well to him language, reading, sexuality all go hand in hand.

BUT: I do agree with Anthony in the sense that not everything that is experimental or incoherent is actually something worth trying to decipher. This is one thing that gets me enraged: these days many "experimental" fiction is promoted because it conforms to some expectation to be wacky and play with language in some clever way, but if you don't have much content behind that play with language, why would I care to read it? Plus, there are some new writers promoted out there who are supposedly great experimentalists but I question how much they'll last or how much they have to offer. Palahniuk imitators for example, who think that throwing in some drugs and crazy action is enough to make them good writers. Not to mention that a lot of experimentalists have only scorn for "classics" and are proud never to have read them (forget about being embarrassed they didn't read such books), when in fact you cannot be a rebel without knowing the tradition, knowing what you are rebelling against. Any writer who is against reading will never make it far, in my mind. Or the writers who only write the type of lit. that sells, that is "current" so they can imitate it well but can't do much else - why would I give them much credit?

Now I'm off the soap box!!!

Anthony David Jacques's picture
Anthony David J... from The Internet is reading two or three books at once. October 7, 2011 - 3:55pm

It's like jazz and jazz fusion.

You can tell when a musician knows his music history, knows what rules he's breaking and what new ground he's tackling musically, even if you can't put it into words. 

You can also tell when someone is just blowing nonsense notes out of a tenor sax and calling it fusion or experimental when really he knows fuck all about music theory and history and doesn't have the patience to learn his craft, learn the rules and learn how to break them meaningfully.

Just writing something weird or inaccessible doesn't cut it with me. You have to know how to use language well before you can break the rules. You have to know where your craft has been and where the craft is now before you can have a starting place from which to explore or rebel. 

Otherwise, you may as well be writing spam email: 

helmet haul thieve wean!

drag creep.

cuboid carve hurtle sorb?

clave oxtail crump poker!

buckle spawn scree.

thieve scry meshy missus.

blind Russian wet dreams

of mice and menegitis

gullet hut.

whisht yore foster.

escort dirge brown payoff?

foam satire payoff purist?

cupel uppish carp pact!

buckle spun educe alight?

splay natter deary august!

Oh, I'm so fucking experimental. I should be FAMOUS!

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 7, 2011 - 4:00pm

Anthony, you just put in ten times the amount of work that they do.  You're crackin' my shit up over here.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 8, 2011 - 12:30am

@ Tony: Sure, but my issue is with the "It's your fault. Take some responsibility" line of thinking. Of course there are shitty experimental pieces. That doesn't mean they can't actually be quite good and the reader is simply not equipped to read it. Is it Pynchon's fault that Gravity's Rainbow doesn't sit well with a lot of casual readers? Partly. But it also says a lot about the readers.

@ Liana: Nothing wrong with liking crazy French theorists. I spent a good chunk of my university days getting to grips with Lacan and company. I'm always wary of people who wear their French Critical Expertise as a badge, because I suspect they're hiding something, but I really enjoy that area.

 

 

kah's picture
kah from Ewan is reading everything on al gore's information super highway October 8, 2011 - 11:07am

books that deal with adults returning to where they grew up and the the spooky shit hits the fan.

i'm talking about you John Saul

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 8, 2011 - 11:28am

Subject, verb, object. Subject, verb, object. Subject, verb, object. Subject, verb, object, attribution. Appositive. Subject, verb, object. Fragment.

lynx_child's picture
lynx_child from Seattle is reading The Dresden Files series October 8, 2011 - 11:51pm

I hate twists that have no support.

missesdash's picture
missesdash from Paris is reading The Informers October 9, 2011 - 9:56am

people who label their works "literary" to explain a complete lack of plot

third person narration or description in first person (not technical point of view switches, but describing the entire setting in vivid detail when your MC is hurrying down the street.)

author insertion/wish fulfillment

I'm growing tired of books about underachieving misanthropic white guys

I hate flowery prose or anything that feels emotionally manipulative

There aren't any subjects that I dislike, as long as it's done well

 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 9, 2011 - 12:59pm

deus ex machina - which is along the same lines as lynx_child's dislike.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 9, 2011 - 2:10pm

I'll double up on the deus ex machina - hate it in books, and movies too.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 9, 2011 - 3:25pm

i'll add one for floweriness

constant reinterations of how people look

words like 'tawny' (unpack that shit, you lazy fucktards)

the bottom line is you can assume your readers are (most of them) smarter than you think, and you can write a line like im stealing/paraphrasing from clevenger here.... i hit my brakes and she was bathed in blood... without the explanation of red tinted light covers and the wattage of the bulb, and whatever. it makes for a sexier, cleaner line, and a more vivid picture in the imagination

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring October 9, 2011 - 4:16pm

My major pet peeve is celebrity autobiographies written by celebrities that have no business doing so.  Like Snooki.  Nine shots of Patron and a Denny's Grand Slam vomitted onto 300 pages of paper should not be on a bookshelf anywhere.

However Steve Martin, George Carlin, Brian O'Dea, even Corey Taylor (among others) have done it very well.

My other dislike is when authors try to fill a work with extremley graphic content.  A lot of things I've read out there seem like they're just doing it for shock value.

lynx_child's picture
lynx_child from Seattle is reading The Dresden Files series October 9, 2011 - 4:22pm

My other dislike is when authors try to fill a work with extremley graphic content.  A lot of things I've read out there seem like they're just doing it for shock value.

I agree with this, especially when it really adds nothing to the story.