Overrated Sacred Cows

Salvador Dalí

Dalí was a great dabbler in disciplines, but his postured eccentricity and style-hopping betrayed his own doubts about his talent. He reminds me of that deprecating exchange from Fight Club:

"I get it. It's very clever."

"Thank you."

"How's that working out for you?"


"Being clever." —SH

The Da Vinci Code vs. The Bible

Dan Brown's boilerplate thriller The Da Vinci Code has gotten a bad rap from Christian groups who fear the book will be taken literally (a Christian specialty). Turns out The Da Vinci Code actually stacks up pretty well against the Christian's all-time favorite novel, The Bible. Brown proves to be a much clearer writer than God, and less focused on tedious backstory. (That whole "begat" thing in the Bible — boring!) Better luck with your next project, God. —JB

Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe writes — clickety clickety ka-zing — stories about people — honkedy honkedy ratchtedy down the zip-zip-highway!! — who, for the most part, are as dull as dried dogshit. Or if they're not dull — zzzzz snooozzzz mmbpmbpp — as in the case of the original Mercury 7 astronauts in The Right Stuff, he manages to make them dull by swallowing them in his "unique prose." Wolfe's didn't invent New Journalism; he just gave it a name. —WG

Anne Rice

Rice stopped having new ideas sometime in the early 1990s and she's been rehashing the old ones ever since. Basically, she's good at three things: describing stuff in great detail; creating tortured, heartsick characters; and placing said characters in some sort of vividly historical context (see: describing stuff in great detail). —LP

Dave Eggers

This is a paragraph about the master of run-on sentences, Dave Eggers, which attempts — but does not promise — to explain why I've long considered Dave Eggers, thought to be the voice of his generation by quasi-intellectual publishers and English majors alike, to be so self-referentially happy with himself that I want to slowly scrape my eyeballs with a dull razor, and it may or may not divulge that he's got a new book out — What is the What — that doesn't involve Dave Eggers being the central character, which is a serious departure for Dave Eggers, who up until this point has written exclusively about Dave Eggers and how astoundingly witty and charming Dave Eggers happens to be. — Max Linsky

Hunter S. Thompson

So he wrote some funny, crazy shit. What I don't get is the legion of wannabes. A whole, whole lot of young writers have tried in some way to emulate Dr. Hunter S. But wannabes, you've got to ask yourself: Do I want to take all those drugs and do all that damage in the name of the craft? OK, so maybe the answer is yes. Then ask yourself: Do I want to end up with a pistol in my mouth with no literary legacy to show for it? —ES

On the Road

A guy takes a lot of long drives, hitchhikes some, drinks a bunch, shacks up with a Mexican chick, hangs out with an array of maniacs and ... that's about it. Maybe On the Road was revolutionary and liberating for its time, but its ongoing status as a classic rite of passage — naaah. Beat prose as jazz? I'll take a Charlie Parker solo any time. —ES

Thomas Pynchon

America's unreadable answer to James Joyce. I once tried to read Gravity's Rainbow, expecting a treatise on the meaning of the second half of the 20th century. But the copy I got from Amazon must have accidentally been switched with an engineering text. —WG


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