I'm on an unprecedented losing streak with bad books. Mostly because I've strayed from good hardboiled fare. I got about 15 pages into the non-fiction The Man Who Saved Britain, about Ian Fleming, and realized it was total shite. I thought self-loathing citizens were unique to the US, but here was a real self-loathing Brit and self-admitted Communist writing about the evils of a capitalist society glorified by the James Bond books. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
I read Revolutionary Road, supposedly one of the great overlooked novels of the twentieth century. It should remain overlooked, except by self-loathing Americans. I dread even the thought of seeing the movie.
But the worst book I've read recently was "hardboiled" crime fiction. It was one of those Harlequin books from their early years they reprinted as part of their 60th Anniversary celebration. It's called Pardon My Body and was written by an Englishman, using the pen name of Dale Bogard, who apparently had never stepped foot in New York City--or even the US, where the book is set, at least not by the time he had written the book.
The overall effect is bizarre, like Kubrick's New York City streets in Eyes Wide Shut. I know it's supposed to be New York and the street signs are that of New York streets, but it ain't New York. In Pardon My Body you notice he talks about going south on a street that runs east and west and east on a street that runs north and south. Then he talks about taking a long subway ride that in actuality is four blocks. In one chapter he's taking the Third Avenue subway and then the Third Avenue El the next trip. Oh and there's the overnight trip from New York to a city west of Columbus, Ohio. A five hundred mile trip, he claims. I guess he thought the US was about the same size as the UK. The worst part was the hack writing with every bad stereotype and the twisted American slang. A guy doesn't get "sent up" on a murder rap, he got "sent out", for example. It was bizarro world to say the least.
It was the same overall feeling I got when reading I Spit on Your Graves by Vian. I found it appalling that someone would try to write a book about a country he had never been to and about a culture he knew nothing about. After reading that book I did a little research and found that Vian had never, in fact, been to the US.
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