Overrated Books?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Fiesta Red, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Believer

    Believer Tele-Meister

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    Crichton is not "drek". Just about everything he wrote translated to the silver screen. The movies, while often entertaining, were never as good as the books.
     
  2. reckless toboggan

    reckless toboggan Tele-Holic

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    Totally agree.

    It's like all of the authors you listed don't know how to do research.

    There are so many flaws in logic and understanding of the technical aspects of their topics as to be laughable.

    ...or they do have the understanding and do the research, but ignore reality for impossibilities that allow them an easy escape from the corner into which they've written themselves...a crutch very similar to Stephen King's crutch.
     
  3. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Meister

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    Any pro religious text.
     
  4. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't know too much about overrated books, because I do my research before, but I can say IMHO what books are NOT overrated.
    The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes.
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
    The Hobbit.
    The Necromicon(H.P. Lovecraft).
    The Complete works of Robert E. Howard(Conan).
    These stories captivated my imagination as a youth and still amaze me today, even after multiple readings. Special.
     
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  5. ravindave_3600

    ravindave_3600 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the positivity. TDPRI is too often a crowd of complainers (myself included).
     
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  6. Alex W

    Alex W Friend of Leo's

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    I think a good thread would be, Books that are every bit as good as they are cracked up to be.
     
  7. dmitri

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    The only reference I can give is what I use when I teach this idea, as it was taught to me in grad school, and from books I read that I can no longer recall titles for. Sorry for that.

    Based on the Wiki article, I get why people would call TKAM a white savior book. I don't think the wiki article is using a good definition though. It's playing with a Barthian view that decontextualizes the book from the culture and time in which it was written. This is common in mid 20th century theory, and even now among some critical studies (critical race theory, critical queer theory, etc.) theorists, but is uncommon among actual practicing lit, history, and cultural studies scholars.

    What I was getting as it is that the white Savior trope is usually considered negative. It can only though be considered negative when a white Savior is not needed to advance the plot.

    Given that in the time period written about a black lawyer or Savior figure would have broken the realistic tone of the book, a white lawyer or Savior is the only option. Therefore it shouldn't be considered a problem. If the book was set in 1993 or 2003 or 2023 I might feel differently. But given that the only realistic lawyer at this point would be a straight white cismale, the WS trope is not really a critique.

    Doesn't mean you have to like the book, and maybe I'm just hyper sensitive to this because I get flack from some of the more radical members (a tiny but shrill minority) in my field. But that's my take, the one i use when i teach US History Through Lit or Pivotal Texts or even my HIST survey.

    Edit: But dude I love that you're thinking this deeply about lit and culture. Well played from a dude who doesn't often say that.

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  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Thanks for that reply. My main beef with TKAM is if I imagine it assigned to high school students with no other books from other perspectives and not enough discussion like in this thread. Can you imagine what it's like for a black student to read? I'm more familiar with the movie, and I recall that Tom Robinson's wife has one line in total.

    I can imagine a different TKAM. What about one with multiple points of view? What if Tom also had a precocious child?
     
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  9. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Having dragged quite a few classes through To Kill a Mockingbird, I bought a copy of Go Set a Watchman, which was said to be an early draft of TKM, and which was produced literally over Harper Lee's dead body.

    I never got around to reading it, and it eventually got lost. Now I'm glad I didn't read it. Whole different Atticus I hear.

    Speaking of which, I finally decided that the film version is a poor substitute for the book, and that it lost its way when Hollywood fixed it to feature Gregory Peck. Atticus wasn't the most important character in the book, the kids were and the town was. And Boo Radley, for Pete's sake. . . . After that I showed it anyway, but had the kids discuss the similarities and differences out loud and in writing.

    Harper Lee's story itself makes TKM a good book for school kids. It grabs them: the book's tremendous impact at the time, her childhood with Truman Capote (the kids like pictures of him), her dad's biography with so many shades of the story, Lee's withdrawal and reclusiveness. . . . I always felt it was important that kids know that learning about an author's life, work, and times always contributes to their understanding of a novel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
  10. dmitri

    dmitri Tele-Holic

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    I always assigned this book w a few other texts dealing w black resistance and pointing out how black lawyers were beginning, aka Thurgood Marshall, to challenge white supremacists in the legal system. But you're right. The book needs context. Sadly time constraints often prevent teachers from giving that kinda in depth lesson. All I can say is I and my colleagues did give it. Context mitigates a lot of the problematic elements of most books. See Huck Finn, Gatsby, etc.

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  11. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This is why teachers have to be responsible presenters of literature. My own approach starts with a discussion of how you have to view people in order to be able to buy them and sell them, work them, even beat them and kill them. You have to see them as something other than human, so you call them things that separate them from humanity. We talk about the word, and understand that any one of us when reading out loud may read it, substitute another word for it, or omit it, and we keep going. I make it clear that outside of that, the word is completely inappropriate in our classroom and our culture.

    It happens less often here than elsewhere, but I try to check in with black students frequently during our reading, one-on-one outside class time, about whether I'm keeping everything respectful, and whether everyone else is. Its language is there to make the scenes realistic, and they are realistic. The story itself, and its black characters, are realistically and sympathetically drawn. It's an important story, in my opinion one of the last (Huck Finn comes to mind with little else) books that should be trimmed from the curriculum.
     
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  12. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

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    the bible. the main character is inconsistently written.
     
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  13. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    To dismiss TKAM because it was written in Scout/Jean Louise’s voice is a bit strange. That would eliminate every first-person narrative in the history of literature.

    Also, while your criticism of the movie’s treatment of Tom Robinson’s wife may or may not be valid, there were multiple storylines from the novel that had be eliminated—it was a movie, not a mini-series...there were numerous sub-plots about Helen Robinson (yes, she had a name in the book), the Radley clan (specifically Boo/Arthur), the Ewells, the Cunninghams, Miss Maudie Atkinson, the townspeople, Judge Taylor and the Finches themselves that had to be eliminated for the sake of time. No social strata was left untouched in the truth, satire and criticism of each was on-point...especially if you’ve ever lived in a small southern town.

    And the lack of dialogue and input from African-American characters (outside of Calpurnia) is not indicative of racism or WS tropes—it’s indicative of the era and locale that Scout was living in. A white kid would have little or no regular contact with people of different races or even financial status—as indicated by the disdain the town felt for the Ewells and the disdain her snobbish Aunt Alexandra felt toward the Cunningham clan from Old Sarum...not because Scout was evil, but because the society in which she lived would not allow it.

    Harper Lee said it was not an autobiography, but said an author “should write what they know.” So it’s logical that an independent southern white woman should write a feminist Bildungsroman from viewpoint of an educated, upper-middle-class upbringing in 1930’s Alabama (and have it edited by Truman Capote, the basis of the character “Dill”).

    Taking your supposition—“what if Tom also had a precocious child”? into a different literary universe...

    SE Hinton did that in her YA fiction books The Outsiders, That Was Then This Is Now, Rumblefish, etc., all set in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Major characters from one book/story were occasionally mentioned or referenced in other books, and often in a less-favorable light than the major character’s original story, because of the viewpoint of the new story’s main character. It made the stories seem more believable and realistic.
     
  14. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    .
     
  15. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    As the uncle of three black students, none of them read anything they hadn’t already heard before, and at least the terms are presented in a much more respectable manner than the way they’ve heard those words from their peers.

    I gave each of them a copy of this book, along with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1984, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (when they got older) and a religious book that I won’t name. Their mother was originally upset about TKAM, until I found out that she’d never read it—so I gave her a copy and said, “Get back to me.”

    It was the sole time she apologized to me in the 20 years she was married to my brother-in-law.

    The book TKAM opened dialogue about the attitudes and problems that were omnipresent in the past, as well as an opportunity to discuss what attitudes and problems are still present today.
     
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  16. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Great conversation, guys! I don't agree with all of it, but the level is unusually high for a public forum.
     
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  17. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    @BigDaddyLH, as a reader who rarely ventures into books written past about 1980, I often envy you the depth and breadth of your reading in contemporary literature. Your agreement means little to me either way, at least where it comes to books; I always enjoy your posts.
     
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  18. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave TDPRI Member

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    I love 70s & 80's Stephen King.
    Adored The Stand, but I liked the original 1978 version, rather than the 'uncut' extra long version that was released in 1990
    The Shining, Christine & Salem's Lot are still incredible.
    My interest started to wane a bit more with Gerald's Game, Bag Of Bones, Delores Claiborne etc.
    Then again, I always thought the 90's was pretty much a lame decade in terms of new classic books / movies / music.

    Anything by James Crumley is life changingly awesome noir fiction.
    I couldn't get on with Catch 22 either.

    'When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.'
    {The opening line from The Last Good Kiss, by James Crumley}
     
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  19. richbike

    richbike Tele-Meister

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    I never met the man but seeing as he was a social commentator and kind of satirist I suspect his characters were deliberately one dimensional and charactatured.. but I agree his stories work best as plays or films where actors can inject a bit of life into them
     
  20. richbike

    richbike Tele-Meister

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    AHH wasn't that Dickens?
     
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