Battle of the Losers

My goal is to read everything I own, which seems neurotic until I consider that books are the only objects I would feel that way about: I wouldn’t acquire clothes and not wear them or food and not eat it. (Or occasionally I would, but then I’d give the clothes away and trash the food.) This will necessitate bringing books back for voting, which I’ve done with the losers from all the previous polls, or the loser I liked best in the case of ties, for your reconsideration.

Looking at what’s losing, apparently you’re not particularly fond of the genre stuff, are you? 4 of 6 options are sci fi/fantasy/speculative fiction. Maybe The Master and Margarita is a stretch to include, and it and Gulliver’s Travels would probably not be shelved that way in a bookstore, but still: a giant cat and tiny people. And then Iris Murdoch and Laurence Sterne are weirdos.

In an attempt to give you more to go on than a title, I’ve taken the first page of reviews of each book from amazon, sorted by “most helpful,” and put them through this word counter to determine relevant facts and degree of goodness. Apologies if the parentheses make your eyes bleed.

The Master and Margarita is a satire (7) in translation/s (35) from Russian (18) concerning love (7), death (7), evil (4), justice (3), Jesus (5), the devil (5), and Judas (3). Possibly in an asylum (3). A literary (5) masterpiece (6), it is great (5), good (5), funny (5), wonderful (4), and beautiful (3).

Interworld’s a fantasy (5) which may or may not be a series (9) about a boy (6) who travels between parallel (6) world/s (20). Possibly villains (3) place a hex (3) on him. Possibly he has or fights an army (3). Be assured it is fascinating[ly] (4) interesting (7), enjoyable (3), great (6), and good (10).

In The Lathe of Heaven there’s a doctor (5) with power (23) over or in dream/s (25). Reviewers found it necessary to mention the existence of reality 11 times. Maybe the doctor fights evil (5) while dreaming (5)? Good to the power of 18!

Iris Murdoch’s reviewers didn’t much want to come together, but there’s symbolism (4) and relationships (3) and madness (3), and three times someone used “inasmuch”. Complex (3) and beautiful (3).

Tristram Shandy is one of the classics (9) with digressions (8) from the main narrative (5). Features an uncle (5), a hobby (4), and the number nine (4). Shakespeare gets 3 mentions. People like (15) it cuz it or its characters are funny (4), defiant (3), and clever (3).

Gulliver’s Travels is a satire (15) and possibly allegory (3) about a voyage (7) to or from home (7), which may or may not be an island (11). There are horses (4), giant/s (7), lawyers (3), a pacifist (4), and government (4). It’s 10 times great, 4 times good, 3 times interesting.

A word on Iris Murdoch: I read A Severed Head once, acquired five of her other novels from my parents, and was never able to get through another one. I remember a sculpture, British people, and incest. Also, it had a pretty Penguin cover. For word counting purposes I used The Sea, The Sea as both the title that came in the middle of the five alphabetically and the first to pop up in a search for Iris Murdoch. Follow-up poll if she wins.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Battle of the Losers

  1. Sam

    Hm. Torn between Master + Margarita and the Ursula LeGuin. Will vote soon. But I think it’s okay to want to read everything on your shelf. I feel great responsibility to all objects I acquire. Then again, I have been called neurotic at least 100 times in the past year.

  2. Sam

    nah. but i’ve read parts of almost everything on my shelf. i never really feel compelled to finish things, and books have a shelf-life of forever, so there’s time.

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