Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Just Don't Get It

James O. Born

I am a writer. But before that I was a reader. I still am. I’ve often expressed my interest in all types of books from history to fiction, from crime to science. I love being swept up by a god story with characters I care about. Fact or fiction, I don’t care.

I have, on occasion, questioned my own good taste in books. Too often I’ve read a bestseller and thought, “What the hell? Who likes this crap?” On the other hand I’ve tried to help a couple of unpublished writers who I thought had written pretty good manuscripts and none of them ever got published. None. Nada. Zero.

I’ve read a number of classics and loved them. I can still recite some of the opening lines to a kid’s version of Moby Dick that got me interested in reading, if not whaling. The Island of Dr. Moreau really got me interested in classics in sixth grade. Loved it.

In the last couple of years I’ve devoted a little more time to widely read “classics” or at least award winning books.

I just finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I know the guy is a great writer. Oprah loved him and The Road. I think it won the National Book Award. I didn’t get it. Future, bleak, love of a father and son. Blah, blah, blah, cannibals, bad people, hungry. It made Angela’s Ashes look like a whacky comedy. I love futuristic, speculative fiction. I love stories of fathers and sons. I just thought it was the same beat for two hundred and fifty pages. Holy crap I’m depressed even telling you about it.

Last I tried to slog through Atlas Shrugged. Wow, I don’t have the words. Who is John Galt? Who freakin’ cares? I made to page 50 and felt like I had climbed Everest. Life’s too short. Atlas Shrugged is too long. Communists bad, capitalists good. Government has no role in regulation. There, that’s Jim’s cliff notes of Atlas Shrugged.

I’m interested in classic or just popular books that you didn’t get the point of.

Also I wanted to say good-bye, at least for now, from my regular Thursday slot here at Naked Authors. I’ve met some wonderful people here and enjoyed sharing the stage with the other Naked Authors. I may post a comment or two on my Amazon blog or website from time to time.

Thanks for all the support.


Jim B.


  1. I liked THE ROAD, for the absolute perfection of the description and the clarity of the writing. But yeah, the plot got exhausting after a while. Had it been just a little bit longer, I might not have finished. Only thing I can say is, BLOOD MERIDIAN was even grimmer, but once you make it past the tree of dead babies, you'll be all right.

    I'm impressed that you got through 50 pages of ATLAS SHRUGGED. I think I made 20 before deciding that that book sucked, with vigor.

    I could never get into MOBY-DICK. I remember thinking, "it's over 150 pages and he's not even on the friggin' boat yet."

    Another one I could never get was THE SATANIC VERSES. I bought it because I wanted to support Rushdie and do my small part to uphold literary freedom, but WTF?

    Sorry to see you're bowing out. Best of luck to you. I'll definitely miss your posts. You going to be at Thrillerfest?

  2. Keep in touch, Jim. All the best.

  3. Jim,

    Really sorry to see that you are leaving...things won't be the same without you.

    As for The Road, I am glad to see someone else felt the same way I did. I read about 3/4 of it before I called it quits. Don't get me wrong, I think McCarthy is a great writer. I love No Country and the Border Trilogy, but The Road just wore me out.

  4. I'm not clear if Naked Authors is going on a sabbatical or closing its doors......Jim, I certainly hope it is the former, I very much enjoy your posts.


  5. Best wishes, Jim, we'll miss you.

    Regarding classics - what the hell was Proust thinking? I'll never forget slogging through Remembrance of Things Past, trusty French-English dictionary at my elbow. I got to the end of a particularly painful passage, stopped, and said to myself, "All of that about a flippin' piece of cake?!?" Gak.

    And, after I read The Road, I didn't trust my own opinion so asked a friend to read it and tell me what she thought. Next time I saw her, she asked, "Don't you like me any more?" Gak again.

  6. Just to clarify. Naked Authors is on vacation for the summer. Jim isn't leaving us. We would never allow that. We're all on holiday.

    Having said that, I'm currently reading THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald and loving the writing. I've had the book for decades. There are pencil marks in the margins. I must have read it before, but I can't remember it. ARGGGH!

  7. JIm,
    Naked Authors won't be the same without you and neither will the Naked Readers.

  8. Great Scott!! Go-Lo, thanks for the clarification.... with all the weeping and such, I was getting the feeling that the shop was actually closing up......I would truly miss your roborant post...


    PS: Thanks for the Jim [Cliff] notes on Atlas Shrugged.... I think the title is your first clue that this is designed to be esoteric....along with a first name of Ayn! Added bonus: This woman said,"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction." WTF

  9. Not to worry. JIM ISN'T LEAVING US!!!!!!! We're all on vacation for the summer. And if you want to be notified when we return, please subscribe to Naked Authors. We'll send you an e-mail. (See my post from Monday if you need instructions)

  10. "naked readers", i like that, debby! spechially in this scorching heat.


  11. 1. Re: Moby Dick. Call me Fish Meal, but I never finished it. Not even the Cliff's Notes.

    2. Re: The Road. Repetitious. Movie starring Viggo Mortensen coming soon. Take a date and midway through, bite a chunk out of her/his arm. (Readers of the book will get it).

    3. Re Rae. Isn't "Remembrance of Things Past" redundant?

  12. Good riddance to Born.

    What??? He's NOT leaving???


  13. You guys all rock.

    I'm with the group whatever they do.


  14. It would seem, Jimbo, amigo, that our reading tastes are quite similar. If I don't die before I get organized, I shall bequeath some, most, or all of my sci-fi from the 40's and 50's to you. MOBY DICK is in a class by itself: parts are very funny (see the passage where Ishmael contemplates the gold coin hammered into the mast of the ship by Ahab and likens it to the navel of the ship, then comments about what happens when you unscrew the navel! And more), parts are poetic--whole passages of prose that are actually iambic pentameter, and so much more. What it is not is a novel about whaling. As far as Rand goes, her and Brandon's philosophy is based on shifting definitions of key words and concepts, and thus is crap. Had the distinct pleasure of pointing this out to a group of followers at a meeting I was coerced to attend about 35-40 years ago, and they disolved their group and never met again.

    Good vacating to you. See you anon.

    Tom, T.O.

  15. The last fiction I read was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and Harley Jane Kozak's "Dead Ex," which were GREAT summer reads.

    From what I see on the stacks, publishers seem to like the "misery loves-company-writers" crowd. Perhaps that is why most of their books sit on the shelves in our public library. Given our budget woes, I am starting to advise purchasing to cut back from such miserable authors.

    That said, I am going to miss your blog entries every week. I did not always comment, but your topics were fun!

    Stay in touch and say "Hi!" when you stop by the Main Library!