I was nominated by Ally to do the Listicle Tag – thanks Ally!
- Create your own listicle tag, using the prompt from the person who tagged you.
- Tag the creator of the post (not-so-modern-girl!) so that she can read all your brilliant posts and see how the joy of listicles is being spread.
- Nominate as many people as you want!
- Set those 5 people the subject/prompt of their listicle post!
Ally’s prompt: Books you’d like to rewrite (any number of books!)
Let’s stick with 5 – I could be here all day.
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. Let’s just get the Greek mythology one out of the way since you knew it was coming. I so wanted to love this book, which is supposedly a feminist retelling of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective, with a focus on Odysseus’s execution of Penelope’s maids, but so much of it rubbed me the wrong way. The treatment of every female character other than Penelope was pretty abhorrent – I struggled to find the feminist merit in a book that reclaimed one female perspective, only to demonize all of the other female characters. I’m also a BIG Helen of Sparta fan, so any Trojan War retelling which places the blame for the war on Helen (as this one did) irritates me to no end. Basically, I’d love to rewrite this, keeping Atwood’s characterization of Penelope and the maids, but pretty much reworking the way all of the other female characters are treated by the narrative.
The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. This is a sort of tender gay romance between a man and an angel who can only meet on one day of the year, set in early 1800s France. I was so sure that I was going to love this book that I would have confidently included it in one of those ‘five-star read predictions’ posts that I did yesterday, but it ended up barely scraping by with two stars. I just thought the execution was so messy. There were so many background characters and subplots which ended up being ultimately inconsequential, and the extreme unlikability of the protagonist made it sort of difficult to root for the romance. I’m obsessed with this premise though; I would love to keep the format of the book (each chapter taking place in the consecutive year) and cut out a lot of the filler material.
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. This is another book with a fascinating premise. It’s set in World War II London (nothing unusual there) – but it’s told going backwards in time; so the novel begins in 1945 (or ’46… somewhere in there) and ends in 1941. The problem with this book? It’s only about 5 chapters, and each one is so long. So basically, we’re in the 1945 narrative… and it keeps going for a hundred pages – now WAIT, STOP, we’re traveling back in time to 1944. And then the 1944 narrative moves forward for a hundred pages – now WAIT, back another year. Etc. It felt so disjointed to spend so much time in a certain year only to be jerked backward somewhat arbitrarily. I think I would have made different use of the backwards timeline if I’d written this novel… and it’s frustrating, because there’s so much to love, including a great host of LGBT characters.
Mischling by Affinity Konar. I either want to rewrite this book or just stop it from existing tbh…. I found this so, so, so offensive. It’s another WWII novel, this time about a fictional set of twins who were the subject of one of Josef Mengele‘s inhumane experiments in Auschwitz. This was a subject I’d learned about in high school, and I was eager to delve into a fictional account of Mengele’s zoo. Unfortunately, I thought this whole novel was basically an elaborate literary exercise for Affinity Konar to show off her prose (which I found overwritten and mostly rather vapid), and I thought the whole thing was mostly sensationalized garbage. I just didn’t think the Holocaust was a particularly appropriate subject for what struck me as an elaborate creative writing exercise in trying to come off as literary~. If I wrote a novelized account of Josef Mengele, I would try to do so with more sensitivity than I found in Mischling. (Sorry, I know some people love this book, I just… really hated it.)
The Girls by Emma Cline. This one seems timely with the death of Charles Manson yesterday. I admit to being morbidly fascinated by cults, so I’d been excited to pick up The Girls, 2016’s ‘it book’ of the summer about a young girl who joins a Mason-esque cult in the 1970s. But man, did I not like the execution. First of all, I thought the prose was terrible, and second of all, what frustrated me the most was how the protagonist (and therefore, the reader) was held at an arm’s length from most of the action of the story. Evie was always on the sidelines of the group and never really a true part of it, so I sort of felt like… what’s the point? I hadn’t learned anything about the psychology of what drives a person to join a cult other than what I already knew, which was not a whole lot to begin with. For how little research was in here, I was shocked at this book’s rumored 2 million dollar price tag. I’d love the chance to rewrite this story and really delve into the subject in a way that Cline hadn’t.
Top 5 books you feel like you read at the wrong time. Whether or not you intend to give them another chance, what are some books that you think you’ve unfairly hated over the years because it was a case of the right book at the wrong time?
(As usual, I will not be offended if you skip it!)