What made me check out the responses to these books was a post at Katrina Strauss's blog. I've read the Glen David Gold novel, Carter Beats the Devil, but wanted to see what others thought of it. I've heard of but haven't read Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, so wanted to satisfy my curiosity about that one, as well.
Here, first, are some comments about Carter Beats the Devil. Mr. Gold's book, a whimsical bit of historical/biographical fiction, has a higher overall rating than his wife's, which was vilified as much as it was praised. (I liked Gold's clever novel very much -- smooth writing, fascinating subject matter grounded in meticulous research, droll humor -- but agreed with readers who felt it was overpopulated with characters as well as subplots and, as a result, got bogged down in the middle.)
- ...my disbelief got tired of being suspended and just came in and crashed the party. [ROFLMFAO! The best line I've ever read in a review!]
- This is another one of those books with a cover so intriguing that I always pick it up whenever I see it, only to put it back down after reading the description on the back cover and finding it not to my liking, then immediately forget that I was ever interested in the book at all, until the next time I see it, when I do it all over again.
- Wow...that took me two WEEKS to get through. Either it was a very meaty book or I was very busy.
- ...the Gaimenosity of this book scored very low... [I assume this reader is a fan of Neil Gaiman. Otherwise, the comment makes no sense.]
- I found the 500 pages more than I wanted to know about life in the community of magicians so I stopped at page 194. Worth reading, however. [???]
- Magic is indeed magic. The Prohibition was also kinda magic. Blind people are magic too.
- Maybe he'll write a book about clowns next.
- Like other man-authored sprawling novels with lots of characters (mostly men), this book starts out strong but meanders a lot in the middle (metaphor for life!)
- I don’t know why, but for some reason I find magicians inherently creepy. Ergo, I didn’t enjoy, nor did I finish, this book.
And now, for Ms. Sebold's reviews:
- One book, two rapes. How's that for a bargain? I almost said three rapes, but then I remembered that I was a consenting adult and did indeed willingly part with my ten bucks...
- This was the book that made me realise the serious flaw in the theory that if lots of people you see on the tube are reading a book, it must be good. I would say with some confidence that this is the worst book I've ever read in my entire life. The only thing that kept me going to the end was sheer bloody-mindedness; a determination not to be defeated by any book no matter how brain-deflatingly awful it is. That said, the endless cloying sentimentality in this almost made me throw it in the bin on several occasions, and it contains the single worst simile I've ever encountered in an entire lifetime of book-reading: "Her heart, like an ingredient in a recipe, was reduced."
[Here, by the way, are other horrendous similes mentioned by different readers: “Her pupils dilated, pulsing in and out like small, ferocious olives.” And the subsequent comment: What does that even mean? What the hell? Did she actually think this was good writing?
“The tears came like a small relentless army approaching the front lines of her eyes. She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with her tears.” Another bit of commentary followed this quote, but I neglected to copy it. It was funny, though.]
- I only finished it so that no one could pull the old "But it gets better..." on me. It does not.
- So over-the-top melodramatic I almost lost my lunch... twice. I should have known better: NYT bestseller list + Oprah recommended = ptewy!
- I got about halfway through it, but only because I was listening to the audio version.
- If you like this book, then you hate literature. It's that simple. I'm not joking. Do not read this book.
- I HATED this book. Truly. I read it on a flight and I disliked it SO GREATLY that when I finally landed home at PDX, I threw it away in the women's bathroom, rather than trying to sell it at Powell's or giving to an unsuspecting friend.
- So why is this innocent girl who died before her time using her best friend's body to have sex with her boyfriend on earth? Who the fuck does that? And who the fuck is okay with that? I don't care if the friend was okay with it, that's still fucking sick. And that Suzie would even think of and go along with the idea was just fucking... ew. Was it meant to be tragic and romantic? Because that was just disgusting. Also, Suzie, you're dating one hell of a fucked up guy if he's also okay with doing something like that.
- I think I'll read books by people who have brains in their head from now on. One star was far too high a rating. Minus a star would be far too high a rating.
- 'Anguish Porn'
- ...Anyone who finds Sebold to be an artful manipulator of prose or finds the last 50 pages of this book to be narratively or intellectually satisfying cannot possibly be playing with a full deck.
- ...a heaping pile of unrealistic suburban vignettes that read like a watered down soap opera...
- If Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks had an awkward romp on the set of CSI: Pennsylvania circa 1973, this book would be their love child.
- Sebold's concept of heaven takes cliche to a new level. It doesn't even try to stretch the boundaries of an infantile concept of the afterlife, which is limited to the fulfillment of sensory pleasures. Really? All you can think of is that the air smells pretty and there are lots of puppies?
- The only way I could finish it was to turn the speed up to 2x on my player, so I could listen really fast.
- I am trying to make sure my review doesn't sound like I guzzled two quarts of hateraid, so bear that in mind. I hated this lame piece of crap. Seriously, I get why the world wanted this kind of book, but I really don't get why it's become this omghugebestseller.
- I'm not a book burner but I considered it. Granted, this is my roommate's book, so that would have been a dick move.
Now I'm laughing all over again! People sure do take their reading matter seriously.