Worst Book of the Decade? Already?

April 19, 2010

Ed Champion on Yann MartelWow. Talk about bad reviews. Edward Champion has crowned Booker Prize-winner Yann Martel’s latest novel, Beatrice and Virgil, the Worst Book of the Decade. Which, of course, is impressive, since the decade is all of three and a half months old, with some hundred sixteen and change to go.

It’s a little hard to explain how vicious this review is, except to say I might look for a copy at my local library because something allegedly this bad must be witnessed.

There comes a rare time — perhaps once every ten or fifteen years — when you read a book with such dreadful syntax, without even a fiber of merit, so libertine in the manner it insults the audience, and so producing the literary equivalent to being completely submerged into a vat of shit, that the reader, having embarked on the fetid journey, begins to pine for a brutal throng of vigilantes to chop off the author’s hands and prevent the hopeless hack from ever holding a pen or setting foot near a laptop again.

I mean, come on. Isn’t that something of an invitation? Like when I was a kid, and heard about the Faces of Death videos. And then one day, as an adult in the age of the internet, I ventured out onto the information superhighway, watched a couple of scenes of human life evacuating bodies, held myself satisfied, and wished I had never seen such horrible things.

You know. Fascination with disaster. Rubbernecking. Slowing down on the highway to look for blood or body parts.

Judging by the examples Champion includes, one might wonder if maybe Martel is trying to prove some obscure point, and the reviewer simply missed it. Because the alternative is, well, that the book really is just that bad. As in, “I’d rather be in the Kilgore Trout Reading Club” kind of bad.



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