1. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Look, it’s old hat to hate on Atlas Shrugged, but it really is a horrific example of conservative fantasy. I read this book after reading a list article on the 100 best novels ever. It was number one on the public vote list; little did I know that the Ayn Rand foundation had stacked the vote in favour of Atlas Shrugged. It’s legendarily bad, crap writing, lazy caricatures of EVIL SOCIALISTS, comically idealized depictions of secretly genius industrialists struggling for the good of the nation against the no-good lazy workers, questionable depictions of sex that read like fan fiction, and the piece de resistance, a 60-page objectivist rant from John Galt (the novel’s key figure). It’s a speech that reduces the sum total of the world into black and white, and is what the 1000-page novel serves as a vehicle for. I read all of those pages, lord knows why. Perhaps it was some perverse masochistic need to conquer a difficult task, but by the end I wanted to jam a screwdriver in my eye. It’s a crap book filled with crap ideas that commits the worst sin of all in literature – being boring. I donated my copy to charity to spite the ghost of Ayn Rand.
2. Bret Easton Ellis’ twitter feed circa 2012
I wasn’t even mad, just disappointed.
3. Guts – Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk is an edgy dude. Guts is a short story collected in Palahniuk’s collection Haunted. It is about masturbation mishaps in young males and it is truly, truly disgusting. How disgusting? The main example is about a young boy masturbating in his pool, sitting on a suction hole. He ends up nearly drowning because the thing he’s sitting on sucks part of his lower intestine out of his anus, and he only escapes by biting through it. It’s vile. It doesn’t even have a good point, like it’s supposed to be about familial love and the extent to which family will go to protect their kin but it just ends up making you want to vomit.
4. The sections of Song of Ice and Fire in which GRRM goes into graphic detail about his characters going to the toilet.
George R. R. Martin doesn’t have a very good editor.
On Daenarys’ private time: “Every stool was looser than the one before, and smelled fouler. By the time the moon came up she was shitting brown water. The more she drank, the more she shat, but the more she shat, the thirstier she grew, and her thirst sent her crawling up the stream to suck up more water.” (A Dance with Dragons).
5. The letters James Joyce wrote to Nora Barnacle.
I can now no longer look at a picture of James Joyce without thinking about him having freaky turn-o-the-century sex.
6. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewsky
House of Leaves is a joy to read, it’s a book about a tattoo artist who discovers the writings of a blind pseudo-intellectual on a film documenting the life of a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer and his family who live in a very spooky house. It’s a delightful mind-fuck of a novel; one I wish I could experience again for the first time.
7. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
William Burroughs is phenomenally overrated as an author. Naked Lunch is not a bad book by any stretch of the word, hell; I’d even call it good, its non-linear narrative and pitch-black comedy being its main assets. It is is at times extremely disturbing. I should have expected as much, the lady at the counter gave me an incredulous look when I bought it. Maybe it’s just my own squeamishness, but the lengthy portion of text toward the middle depicting a violent surrealist orgy is not pleasant.
8. X-Force Second Coming vol. 3 issue 26 (that X-Men issue where Nightcrawler dies from an arm through the chest)
Nightcrawler is the best. His death was a teensy bit silly. Luckily he wasn’t dead for long, he came back as a pirate to fight his demon dad in heaven (X-Men is brain meltingly weird sometimes).
Words by Eamonn Kelly, art by Chakris Srisuwan.
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 3 SOAP.