Friday, February 4, 2011

The worst novel in the world

Readers, I think I've finally picked up a novel that I can confidently call The Worst Novel in the World. Yes, the whole world, not just the English-speaking world, as this stinkfest wasn't originally written in English. Ah-ha, I hear you saying -- maybe a bad translation is the culprit. But I assure you, this novel was skit with a capital S before the translator got hold of the manuscript.

So, are you ready? The title of Worst Novel in the World goes to ...

This (I hesitate to call it a book because that would be too complimentary) long string of words has been on my Kindle for Android for about a month. I love reading mysteries and thrillers before bed; doesn't everyone like dreams filled with intrigue and homicidal maniacs? Instead, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had the opposite effect on me. I'd get through two Android pages (that's like 25 words) and my eyelids would droop. After a couple nights of this, I considered downloading The Book of Common Prayer, which not only is better written, but more gripping.

Seriously, I can't believe that an editor in Stockholm picked up this manuscript from the slush pile, read through it without having to prop her eyelids up with toothpicks, and decided to offer the author an advance. Even more shocking, I can't believe this book has been on every bestseller list under the sun, although awhile ago, I've come to accept that my standards for engaging literature stray wildly from hoi polloi standards. (Ah a snob, you're thinking -- not really. Hey, I still get a little thrill in my belly when I see the latest issue of British Hello! on the newsstands.)

If you haven't read The Worst Novel in the World, you probably want to know what's awful about it. My pithy response would be
everything, but specifically, it's filled with page after page of boring exposition -- long chapters that detail family history and descriptions of what the lead character ate during the day spent in his remote cabin in northern Sweden. When I complained to my friend Linda, who finished the book, she told me I could look forward to the author's turn-by-turn descriptions of the streets he walked in Stockholm, as well as lovingly detailed inventories of Ikea products in certain characters' apartments. When I finally did reach a description of a character's home, I decided that reading an actual Ikea catalogue would be more exciting for the simple fact that a. it has pictures and b. you can order stuff from it. It was at this point that I started reading all the 1-star reviews on, which complained about how horridly the women in this book were treated. The Swedish title for this novel translates into "Men Who Hate Women," but I suggest it should have been called, "Authors Who Need Editing" or "Editors Who Hate Blue Pencils."

I gave up on the Worst Novel in the World after a particularly long chapter detailing a family history, followed by the main character's walk up the road to his benefactor's mansion, where he announced, "I don't understand your family's history. Can you explain it again?" (I may have shrieked "OH NO!" at this point, awakening my husband next to me.) At any rate, I forgave myself for spending $5 on the Kindle edition of this book, and bravely watched the Swedish version of the film (English subtitles), which was actually pretty good and confirmed that I'd figured out the plot early on in the book.

Then I went to the library and checked this out:

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, baby. You know this book is going to keep me up at night.


  1. THANK YOU! I feel the exact same way about this book, and actually told several people to skip the book and watch the movie if they were really interested in the story...

    I couldn't decide if it was the fault of the translation or not (a Swedish colleague read the first one in Swedish, and she loves the non- stereotypical Sweden the book shows), but the pacing of the book was so uneven. I don't even think that it was really mysterious or suspenseful. (I guessed the bad guy in the secondary plot halfway through.) The description isn't all that descriptive, and the author spends a lot of time on certain details that do nothing to move along the story or develop the characters.

  2. I'm laughing.
    I felt the same way about the Tattooed Girl. I had to read it for a book club, and then sat there silently whilst others extolled its wonders. But then, I'm used to not being in agreement with top ten lists.
    My husband is currently reading Keith's book... in fact I just posted about it... and he is loving it. He's flabbergasted. But loving it.

  3. I admit, I loved Lisbeth's character, even as badly written as it was. I did read all three books because I wanted to see what happened, but the IKEA listings just about put me over the edge. And the technology! Good grief!

    Have you read Tana French's book In the Woods? Much, much better thriller. Bonus--set in Ireland.

  4. Melanie, that's an interesting insight about your Swedish colleague -- the review of the book I read in the New Yorker mentions Sweden's "underbelly" and how a lot of readers respond to this.

    Pamela, I just started Keith's book tonight. So far, so good. It starts out with drugs ... lots of them.

    Amy, I haven't read French's book but it's on my radar screen. Tx for the thumbs up. As for That Book, I'd begrudgingly admit that Salandar is a compelling character. I loved loved LOVED the actress who played her in the movie -- she did a fantastic job. (Of course, I will go see the American movie in the make, starring Daniel Craig. :-)

  5. Ha ha -- I'm the Linda who told Diana about the Ikea descriptions. But I did love the book, even with the turn-by-turn directions for every walk and car chase that left me feeling like I was reading Google Maps. I admit it's not well-written, but the story and Lisbeth's character grabbed me.

  6. Well, I stumbled upon your blog while searching for Mistresses Season 3---so bummed that it's not aired yet. But this caught my attention and and you have me laughing outloud. I just finished Keef's book---a true pirate soul imho, but even thru all his faults--and they are legion---that there was something likable about him. And....low and behold I'm reading Girl with a Dragon Tattoo now---picked it up because of all the hoopla about it (and because I was faced with waiting 5 hours while my daughter was performing in a piano competition)--I'm only 80 pages in so far but now you have me's been fun reading your blog :)

    I also just finished The Monster of Florence--found it very interesting and scary how Italian laws work--there is a tie-in with current Amanda Knox case that was totally unexpected, but very interesting to say the least.


  7. Teri, thanks for posting. No word on Mistresses 3 airing in the U.S. Bummer! And too funny -- I listened to The Monster of Florence on CD a couple months ago. We seem to have similar tastes in books. :-)


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