Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reader Poll II: What Works of Fiction Unlock Your Inner Fury?

Passion is an essential element in art, we are told: passion to create, passion for the process, passion for the form. These are considered all good and well.

But let's not get into the power of positive thinking and all that! Let's talk about something destructive and angry. Let's talk about your passionate hatred of certain novels and stories.

Close (and casual) readers of this space know that of late, I have spoken of certain ficciones that have made this author insane with anger, not unike telling bad things to Zinedine Zidane about his mamma. I find the offending writer on a soccer pitch and apply a chest-cavity collapsing headbutt, though I imagine I would find it quite satisfying to do so.

I tend to both love and loathe books. The best novels and story collections are worth telling everyone about, to the point of embarassment.

When it comes to prosthetyzing, I can give you many reasons why Ellison's "Invisible Man" or Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" are wonderful books, but there is usually nothing objective about hating a book. The works in question do not posit a loathesome message (overtly, at least), and aren't always poorly written (though often).

I recall an English professor in college get enraged when we were discussing Hemmingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."

"Doesn't this just make you furious?" she asked. Sluggos all, we shook our heads in confusion. (The teacher was referring to Hemmingway's mysoginst tendencies in the short story, but since most of us didn't see that or, more likely, hadn't read the assignment, we didn't have anything to add.)

At least the professor had a good reason for her anger. I usually don't. My reasoning is simple: it just fucking pissed me off. Usually because I find it pretentious, slick, presumptuous, or haughty, or that I am furious with disbelief that such garbage got published, in lieu of my brilliant story, of course.

He insulted Zidane's mother and Proust

But enough about me. Since this topic has been on my mind of late, and, since, I've already making asked what books make you want to sing their praises to the world, answer me this:

What books, stories, or authors turn you into an irrational mass of shaking fury?

We're talking fiction here, so forget about "Mein Kampf," "A Million Little Pieces," or anything by Ann Coulter, although, if you think about it, both" A Million Little Pieces" and Ann Coulter's entire body of work are nothing but lies. Which is fiction, of a sort.

Don't feel you have to rationalize your anger with a "reason" — feel free to give reasons, of course, but, to paraphrase Irvine Welsh, And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you're just sodding pissed off?