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Reviews

Lone Star Statements

The praise of professional critics hardly matters to the book-reviewing readers at Amazon.com. A compilation of the best of the worst… about the best.

The following are excerpts from actual one-star Amazon.com reviews of books from Time’s list of the 100 best novels from 1923 to the present. Some entries have been edited.

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

“Morrison’s obviously a good writer, but truly, her subject matter leaves a LOT to be desired in this book. It’s raunchy beyond belief. People do things with farm animals that they shouldn’t. I couldn’t get through the first two chapters without vomiting. Some things you just shouldn’t put in your head.”

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1927)

“Basically all that happens is five people die on a small bridge and then the author goes on to discuss these people’s lives. What a BORE. Unless you’re some philosophical nerd, you will not enjoy this book at ALL. If I was the author of this book I’d tell myself to get a grip on the real world.”

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

“Obviously, a lot people were smoking a lot of weed in the ’60s to think this thing is worth reading.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

“So many other good books…don’t waste your time on this one. J.D. Salinger went into hiding because he was embarrassed.”

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1963)

“In the first 20 pages, Alex and his lackies beat a guy senseless and rob him; they steal a car and trash it, they get into a vicious gang fight; they attack a couple at their home, destroy the husband’s life work (his book, A Clockwork Orange), beat him and his wife senseless, and rape the wife. This really ticked me off.”

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (1967)

“My great-great-grandfather is not gay! I don’t know why this William Styron is trying to lie on my great-great-grandfather. Needless to say I am a descendant of Nat Turner and it bothers me that this author is trying to lie to make this book more interesting. I cannot say for certainty that my grandfather was not gay or that he didn’t like white women and neither can this author but I can say that Nat Turner was married and had children and I am a descendant of that union! Other than that idiotic portrayal the book was good.”

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953)

“Go tell it on the mountain was an extremely frustrating book. While the themes and some of the events were good (i.e., racism, abuse, religion), the way it was written made the book unenjoyable for me. I found that the way the book was written made it this way for others as well. I don’t think this is just a coincidence. If the book was written differently I probably would have found it enjoyable.”

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

“Well, it’s a girl’s world. The world of Gloria Steinem and the popular feminism, as distilled on TV (including CBC shows, not all fundamentalist Hollywood garbage) of my youth is GONE. Now the girls run the show. You’re not allowed to call them sluts. And it’s impossible to call them virgins. They’re all doing Rhett Butler. So what are they? Idiots… Hope you like the Gangstas. It’s what you deserve.”

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

“While the story did have a great moral to go along with it, it was about dirt! Dirt and migrating. Dirt and migrating and more dirt.”

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)

“When one contrasts Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with this book, it’s like comparing an Olympic sprinter with an obese man running for the bus with a hot dog in one hand and a soda in the other.”

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

“It grieves me deeply that we Americans should take as our classic a book that is no more than a lengthy description of the doings of fops.”

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)

“I bought these books to have something nice to read to my grandkids. I had to stop, however, because the books are nothing more than advertisements for “Turkish Delight,” a candy popular in the U.K. The whole point of buying books for my grandkids was to give them a break from advertising, and here (throughout) are ads for this “Turkish Delight”! How much money is this Mr. Lewis getting from the Cadbury’s chocolate company anyway? This man must be laughing to the bank.”

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

“1) I’m bored. 2) He uses too many allusions to other novels, so that if you’re not well read, this book makes no sense. 3) Most American readers are not fluent in French, so to have conversations or interjections in French with no translation is plain dumb. 4) Did I mention I was bored? 5) As with another reviewer, I agree, he uses a lot of huge words that just slow a person down. And it’s not for theatrics either, it’s just huge words mid-sentence when describing something simple. Nothing in the sense of imagery is gained. 6) Also, to sum it up, it’s a story about a pedophile.”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1955)

“I am obsessed with Survivor, so I thought it would be fun. WRONG!!! It is incredibly boring and disgusting. I was very much disturbed when I found young children killing each other. I think that anyone with a conscience would agree with me.”

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

“The book is not readable because of the overuse of adverbs.”

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

“The only good thing to say about this “literary” drivel is that the person responsible, Virginia Woolf, has been dead for quite some time now. Let us pray to God she stays that way.”

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs (1959)

“I’m a Steely Dan fan so naturally I wanted to read the book they thought compelling enough to name their band after an element of.”

Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)

“Well…someone who murders anyone…out of panic (which is a really stupid, irrational reason) does not deserve any sympathy. I felt the book was mainly about black people hating white people…as usual. Now, tell me anyone…if there was a book about a white person facing discrimination in Africa…or being killed because stones are thrown at them, then everyone would look down on them. Poorly written.”

1984 by George Orwell (1948)

“Don’t listen to anyone who tries to distinguish between “serious” works of literature like this one and allegedly “lesser” novels. The distinction is entirely illusory, because no novels are “better” than any others, and the concept of a “great novel” is an intellectual hoax. This book isn’t as good as Harry Potter in MY opinion, and no one can refute me. Tastes are relative!”

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

“This book gets my nomination for the most overrated book in American Literature. It is trite, saccharine and false. The themes and insights it contains are not even good enough to be third rate. Moreover, as a prose stylist, Kerouac was probably fourth rate. In short, I despise this piece of [garbage] and would advise all of its hipster doofus fans to lose the tie-dye clothes and throw away their bongs. Maybe then they will read something good for a change.”

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)

“I guess if you were interested in crazy people this is the book for you.”

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

“In the novel, they often speak of a planet called Tralfamadore, where he was displayed in a zoo with a former movie star by the name of Montana Wildhack. I thought that the very concept of a man who was kidnapped by aliens was truly unbelievable and a tad ludicrous. I did not find the idea of aliens kidnapping a human and putting them in a zoo very plausible. While some of the Tralfamadorians’ concept of death and living in a moment would be comforting for a war veteran, I found it relatively odd. I do not believe that an alien can kidnap someone and house them in a zoo for years at a time, while it is only a microsecond on earth. I also do not believe that a person has seven parents.”

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)

“This book is like an ungrateful girlfriend. You do your best to understand her and get nothing back in return.”

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

“Here’s the first half of the book: ‘We had dinner and a few drinks. We went to a cafe and talked and had some drinks. We ate dinner and had a few drinks. Dinner. Drinks. More dinner. More drinks. We took a cab here (or there) in Paris and had some drinks, and maybe we danced and flirted and talked sh*t about somebody. More dinner. More drinks. I love you, I hate you, maybe you should come up to my room, no you can’t’… I flipped through the second half of the book a day or two later and saw the words ‘dinner’ and ‘drinks’ on nearly every page and figured it wasn’t worth the risk.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

“I don’t see why this book is so fabulous. I would give it a zero. I find no point in writing a book about segregation, there’s no way of making it into an enjoyable book. And yes I am totally against segregation.”

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

“This book is one of the worst books I have ever read. I got to about page 3-4.”

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Matthew Baldwin has haphazardly updated his site defective yeti for more than a decade. He is also responsible for Infinite Summer (an internet-wide reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest), A Month of Son (a blog about raising his autistic son), and Seattle Gamenight (a monthly tabletop gaming group). More by Matthew Baldwin