Monday, 9 January 2017

Review of Bad Books: Rat's Nest by Matyas Macsay

Not my own review, but linking it on my blog because frankly I don't have the energy nor masochism to actually bring myself to finish a bad book (My 50 Shades reviewing days are well over).
Di from The Little White Attic reviews Rat’s Nest by Matyas Macsay. I normally don’t link to reviews of bad books, but am including this one because it is really funny. And I think we who tend to stick to good books and our fandoms may lose our sense of what can be really horrible in literature. So used are we to good writing that we forget how things can go wrong.
I’ll go straight to the point: this is 1 of the worst books I’ve ever read in my life—badly written, pretentious, unoriginal, and filed with observations about life as trite as tumblr inspirational quotes. This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
How do I hate it? Let me count the ways:1/ The book has an introduction—something probably meant to be a poem, then 5 chapters (chapter 1 is called “The End”, then “Collision”, “The Suicidal Clown”, “Forgotten Ghosts” and “A Promise”), then interlude—again something probably meant to be a poem, then 4 chapters (“Doubts and Addictions”, “A Blur of Pain and Hurt”—whut?, “Heaven and Earth” and “Love and Compulsion”), then another interlude, then 3 chapters (“Witch of the Forest”, “The Edge of the Cliff” and “The Rat’s Nest”—ah! the title), then an epilouge [sic].What is this? Postmodern? 
Basically this novel is one of those books that Mallory Ortberg from The Toast would have parodied. One of those so-called thoughtful, pseudo-philosophical, cynical, misanthropic bits of tripe that are all too common nowadays. Even in the pages of the so-called literary reviews which claim to be avante-garde. Being new doesn’t necessarily preclude you from being crap.  Like the crop top trend. Here are a few choice quotes:
P.5 (1st page of the book): “Call it the apocalypse. Call it the resurrection. Call it the final act. Call it what you will.”P.6: “Headless chicken, a herd of sheep. Call it what you will.”“Death of the martyr, blood if the innocent. Call it what you will.”“The end of the tunnel, the final act, the curtains down. Call it what you will.”P.9: “The Lone Ranger, the last Mohican, a lone wolf. Call it what you will.”“Call it denial. Call it hiding. Call it running from the past. Call it what you will.”P.11: “Call it bitterness. Call it cynicism. Call it gloating. Call it what you will.”P.12: “Call it routine, call it habit, call it an inescapable middle-aged life. Call it what you will.”P.14: “Call it failure. Call it giving up. Call it what you will.”P.16: “Call it denial. Call it opportunism. Call it what you will.”P.17: “Call it consumerism. Call it capitalism. Call it what you will.”P.18: “Call it naiveness. Call it desperation. Call it religion.”P.20: “Call me unsociable. Call me distant. Call me what you will.”P.21: “Call it isolation. Call it social phobia. Call it what you will.”P.23: “Call me a stress head. Call me a worrywart. Call me what you will.”P.24: “Call it addiction. Call it relaxation. Call it cancer. Call it what you will.”P.25: “Call it stubbornness. Call it addiction. Call it what you will.”P.27: “Call it mistrust. Call it prejudice. Call it what you will.”Etc.You’ve got the idea. I haven’t even reached the end of chapter 2. This appears about every 2 pages all the way to the end. Drives anyone crazy. 
I have actually seen this sort of pattern before. In 50 Shades of Grey. Normally about the inner Goddess, the Subconscious, Christian Grey’s unending erections and Ana’s swearing. *Sigh*
Then the narrator goes on to talk about how the objects around us in daylight seem natural and harmless but “once daylight is gone things begin to change into mysterious shapes” and that “[t]here is a great uncertainty about everything that surrounds us”.The idea in itself isn’t empty or trivial, but our guy speaks with such solemnity I can’t help but laugh, and the way he puts it sounds like he’s a teenager who has just got some intro in philosophy and now thinks he’s so deep.8/ Or:
“… there is one true certainty in life; we develop the captivating ability to lie to ourselves and blind our eyes to the truth…”
What an insight! That hackneyed observation looks like 1 of those pearls of wisdom found on facebook or tumblr.
I can really imagine the author smirking to himself smugly, while putting on a mock-pretentious face of carefully cultivated agony. Reminds me of a few so-called literary people I have known except that this guy actually had the courage (read: recklessness) to publish his book.
And yes, how ironic he chose this title for his book. A rat’s nest he has certainly made out of his words.