Tag Archives: book reviews

Rotten Reviews: The Human Comedy

“Alas! Interested though one is in the attempt, it remains to say that the result is not very happy…there is scarcely a trace of Saroyan’s characteristic charm of manner, and indeed his art of inspired artlessness now falls extremely flat. This, in short, is an excessively simple and very, very sentimental little concoction.”

Times Literary Supplement

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Rejections: John Barth

Rotten Rejections, John Barth I: The Dorchester Tales

“Barth is really smutty, delighting in filth for its own sake, and completely incapable of being funny. What the agent calls his ‘great good humor’ is an offensive archness and facetiousness, couched in the most stilted language and in sentences most of which are seven or so lines long.”

“John Barth’s stories sound like a penny-whistle out of a wind-bag full of bad odors. He may have read Boccaccio and Chaucer, but he never learned their art of storytelling.”

Rotten Rejections, John Barth II: Giles Goat Boy

“The beginning of this novel intrigued me; I though, Shades of LOLITA! Paraphernalia like this means Nabokov has been more of an influence than we’d dared hope. Alas, the beginning is entirely misleading, and what emerges is a slightly ribald science fiction novel, bawdy rather than witty…while I can see this being published, and even reviewed with puzzled respect, I don’t think it will help a bit to clear up the mystery of what Barth is up to as a writer. Or possibly sell enough to pay its productions costs.”

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Review: Death on the Installment Plan

“Its effect is to make sympathy, then to put sympathy to sleep, then to exacerbate the nerves of the reader, until, having decided he has as much as he wants to stomach, he throws the book away.”

Times Literary Supplement

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Reviews: Chaucer

“Chaucer, not withstanding [sic] the praises bestowed on him, I think obscene and contemptible: he owes his celebrity merely to his antiquity, which he does not deserve so well as Piers Plowman or Thomas Erceldoune.”

Lord Byron, The Works of Lord Byron 1835

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Reviews: Anton Chekhov

“If you were to ask me what Uncle Vanya is about, I would say about as much as I can take.”

Robert Garland, Journal American

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Reviews: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“We cannot name one considerable poem that is likely to remain upon the thresh-floor of fame…We fear we shall seem to our children to have been pigmies [sic], indeed, in intellect, since a man as Coleridge would appear great to us.”

London Weekly Review 1828

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Reviews: Journey to The End of The Night

“Most readers will find Journey to The End of  The Night a revolting book; its vision of human life will seem to them a hideous nightmare. It does not carry within itself adequate compensation for the bruising and battering of the spirit with which one reads it: there is no purgative effect from all these disgusts. If this is life, then it is better not to live.”

J.D. Adams, New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.