by Richard Simon
the Bottom Twenty, the twenty worst books of the century.
To qualify for entry, a book needs only to be widely known (being widely
read is no kind of qualification). The type of book is immaterial: novels,
collections of poetry, biographies, monographs, polemics and instruction
manuals are all grist to the mill, so long as they are famous.
All entries must be cited by title and author's name. ISBN numbers are
optional. Please add a few words to explain why, in your opinion, the work
cited qualifies for nomination.
Here, to get you started, are a few of my own contenders, in no
The Prophet by Kalil Gibran. Never was such a tiny harvest of wisdom
gleaned from so vast a field of conceited and portentous rubbish.
Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon. Easily the most monumentally
tedious work of science fiction ever written.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Initially seductive, ultimately
revolting for its snobbery, close-mindedness and intellectual cowardice.
Indeed the work of a man who would eat an entire bunch of bananas in
front of his starving children.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. The reasons why the author was forced to
abandon literature for politics are apparent on every page.
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis. Atrophy of the afferent nerves,
especially those of the groin, is the only possible explanation for this
Crash by J.G. Ballard. Recently made into a movie, this early-Seventies
horror must be the most revolting overflow of personal obsession ever to
make it into print via a mainstream publisher. I read it as an adolescent
and was appalled, though Ballard is a great favourite of mine.
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. Capable of precipitating
episodes of mental illness in unwary readers. Wary ones just get hives.
Islands In The Stream by Ernest Hemingway. Assembled (presumably) from
fragments found in Papa?s wastebasket after he offed himself, this
farrago should more properly be attributed to Mary (I think it was)
Hemingway and Charles Scribner III. It is really three entirely different
unfinished novels featuring a few characters in common and is as crammed
with real, unliterary despair as Breakfast of Champions is with the
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Who says you
can?t fool all the people all the time?
Walden Two by B.F. Skinner. Should anyone wonder what life in Skinner?s
behaviourist Utopia would really have been like, they need only visit
Singapore, where they would discover that truth can be even more
mind-numbingly boring than fiction.
How To Make Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And how to be
a slimy, cynical, brown-nosing little faux Pollyana into the bargain.
Please submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com.