13 May 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Just Doesn't Make the Cut

Literary Blog Hop

This week's question at the Literary Blog Hop, sponsored by the good folks at The Blue Bookcase, asks "What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?"

Oooh, lots, actually. This should be a fun answer this week! Okay, in no particular order I'll go with:

The Passage by Justin Cronin.  This book took the publishing world by storm last year as THE book to rewrite the literary history of vampires.  Most reviewers thought this was the literary equivalent to the second coming of Christ.  Ugh--I can't think of the last time I read such a piece of overrated crap. (And no, not just because it had vampires in it.  I'm generally vampire-friendly when it comes to fiction.)

Anything by Philip Roth.  I've not read a lot, so there might be exceptions to this gross generalization, but I got so sick of reading in his books about how hard it is to be an upper middle class white man.  Wah, wah, wah. 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  I liked this book quite a lot, actually, but I didn't think it was particularly literary (unlike most of its early readers).

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.  I loved these books.  Still do, come to that.  And I think in the beginning the series was quite clever and had potential to be literary but then that potential fell apart with the fourth book.  I think if Rowling (and her editors) had put as much care into books 4-7 as was put into books 1-3, the series would be a milestone in children's literature. 

That should be enough to go on for now.  I'm sure there are tons I'm just not thinking of at the moment, but I want to head upstairs to read for a while, so y'all just let me know what you would pick...


  1. I haaaated Time Traveler's Wife, except for the Chicago locations it mentioned. That was neato.

    That's an interesting perspective on the HP series. Growing up with them, I got happier as the series went on because I wanted more and more of it to read.

  2. Thank you for picking The Passage! I hated it and doubly hated all the positive press. And like you I'm happy to read a good horror/vampire story. I loved Time Traveler's Wife although doubt I would have called it literary. I have to disagree with you on Harry Potter though! I actually think books 5-7 are the best of the series. I would not have expected 1-3 to become literary classics but I do if the series is taken as a whole.

  3. I agree with Philip Roth - haven't read The Passage, yet - it's been sitting on my shelf since release day.

    Completely disagree with HP - think they got better as they went, and more literary, and they are a milestone in children's literature (perhaps the gripe, though, is that as the series ages, it doesn't stay just children's literature?).

  4. not a great potter fan, in fact I shoot him in my post, but it's nothing to do with the perception of the books merit, just doesn't float my boat.

  5. I agree about The Time Traveler's Wife. I really enjoyed it, but hesitate to call it literary.

    I'm going to respectfully disagree about Harry Potter, though. I think our grandkids are going to be reading those books.

  6. What? I've never heard Harry Potter ever termed as literary! Haha! What a silly idea! Also - same with The Time Traveler's Wife. Hmm...

    Perhaps...that's because I studied an English Literature degree, and to suggest such things are just silly?

    I've just come across your blog from the literary blog hop! Have yourself a new follower!

  7. I hated The Time Traveler's Wife. In fact, I hated it so much I couldn't even finish it. I was expecting something beyond romantic, and got stilted prose instead.

    I have to disagree with you about Harry Potter, though, but I'm probably biased. LOL. :)

  8. I feel I should somehow clarify what I said about the Harry Potter books. I love them. Read books 3-7 at least half a dozen times each. But I don't think that Rowling put enough time into her writing/story arc from book 4 onward. The editing was a joke and there were far too many internal narrative inconsistencies, which I think really hold the books back from being literature. But boy, howdy, her imagination is great and what she did for children's literacy around the world probably cannot be exaggerated. She's created more readers through her books than probably any 5 combined authors I could name and I don't think you can put a price on that kind of contribution to the world of books.


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