Monday, September 20, 2010

The Master, Margarita & me

Last spring, when we sat down to choose the next year's reading, one bookclub member brought up Bulgakov's The Master & Margarita, not realizing it was my second least favorite book in all the world.  When she DID learn this, B****** offered to remove the book from her suggestion lists but I said (& I believe) that my perspective might be different with a few years & a new translation & even if I did hate it again, that was no reason no one else should read it.  Besides, reading it with a mind to discussing it might make it smoother, somehow.

Well, it didn't.  & now I am wondering if I do indeed hate this book more than the G*d-damned Fish Book.  I think I might.  As I was thinking this, I spent some time on GoodReads, reading the other reviews of M&M & where at least one of the people who gave The Master & Margarita a bad review got all kinds of hate-mail-style follow-up.  It seems if you hate someone else's favorite book you are an irredeemable idiot who should exit the planet ASAP.

Naturally this got me thinking about other great books I loathe(d):

The G*d-damned Fish book:  I am in good company here, actually.  Leonard Wolf, long suffering husband of Virginia, also hated this book.  Most people suspect Melville was drunk when he wrote it; I am quite sure he was drunk when he did the math.  My favorite chapter has to be when Captain Ahab, unable to stabilize himself on a plank, has to be hoisted to visit another ship.  He balances himself on his solitary thigh.  This is interesting because he lost his other leg below the knee (at least there are references to two knees), so apparently he experienced some kind of apocalyptic thigh-meld...or maybe he keeps one of the knees in a jar?  This is hardly the only instance of cat-math in this book.  I once walked my Discussion of the American Novel class through a rant that went something like this:  if X =  the length of an ancient whale skeleton & X+ (X x Y%) = Z, where Y = the known difference between contemporary whale skeletons & the whale's actual size & Z is less than the documented size of contemporary whales, that would mean that whales are getting LARGER which is the opposite of what Melville says.  I will spare you the details, but both the professor & the rest of the class thought maybe I should change majors & I am fairly certain they are the kind of people who say "I am so hungry I am literally starving to death" when they miss lunch.

The Great Gatsby:  what a stoopid book!  It did not help that my English teacher was also a stoopid woman.  All I really remember about in-class discussion was suggesting that maybe those giant eyes in West Egg or East Egg or wherever Egg was were not, in fact, the eyes of god, but maybe they were the eyes of people who read too much symbolism into things but she told me & the rest of class I was absolutely wrong & they were the eyes of god.  Okay then. 

& then there are the books I was more or less neutral on.  they were Okay, in their way but I could never see what the fuss was about.  This list includes:  Catcher in the Rye, The Prophet, The Alchemist (which much of book club loathed, except for one person who really liked it).  A random collection of fiction I would agree, but they all have something in common.  They were all (& some still are) banned.

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