The Way They Were Meant To Be Read
by ELLEN COPPERFIELD
Coming across a person who is completely jaded about something you enjoy is either amusing or frustrating. In the case of my boss - let's call her Ms. J - it's a little of both. She's clearly "well-read" even though that expression is itself so overused as to become meaningless, but she also seems to have elaborate gaps in her education. We all have blind spots, but none are so educational as Ms. J's appraisal of modern literature. Here are some of her comments on books I asked if she read.
The Scarlet Letter
"She should have been thankful all they did was put on a letter on her: they could have also tweeted about it."
Journey to the End of Night
"If I wanted to read a book by a man with a woman's name, I'd read Justinians."
"It would be nice if nobody ever used liberal arts colleges as settings for novels ever again, but I'm not that naive."
The Cider House Rules
"Fun fact: there has never been a condom in any book that sexist ponce ever wrote."
The Last of the Mohicans
"You just know James Fenimore Cooper would have been, like, a writer for The Atlantic Monthly."
The Secret History
"They got high and killed someone? Big deal. Didn't that also happen in E.T.?"
The Brothers Karamazov
"One of the brothers was way out of line, can't remember which one. The one that looked like Rutger Hauer."
"Could we lose the last million pages?"
The Tin Drum
"Was that where he kept his Jewish friends? Don't tell me, I'm going to read it after I finish Motherless Brooklyn, e.g. never."
"My college roommate ate a lot of ramen noodles. Was that not an option in Scandinavia?"
Henry and June
"Studies show that 90% of young female bloggers owe their existence to Nin's success as a writer. I'm not sure which party should be more insulted."
"Wow, drugs are so crazy, aren't they? Let me know when that guy starts writing in English. When people can actually read his work, they might notice he's a hack."
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
"This guy ruined irony for at least the next decade, but who doesn't love a man with curly hair?"
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"I can't read a book that doesn't have a woman over the age of thirty in it unless it's by Wayne Koestenbaum."
"Everyone is always holding back a slight smile. Perhaps there was a lot of food on other people's faces in Austen's time."
"She was a lot more mature than Gwyneth Paltrow."
Things Fall Apart
"The expectation that things would come together in turn-of-the-century Nigeria was perhaps premature."
The Things They Carried
"Vietnam was full of happy memories, wasn't it? No."
To Kill A Mockingbird
"Wow, what white people can accomplish when they put their mind to it. Scout later grew up and became the star on the The Real Housewives of Maycomb."
The Adventures of Augie March
"I can't read anything by anyone who I know is an asshole, unless it's about how much Dale Peck sucks."
Chilly Scenes of Winter
"It should have had an unhappy ending."
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
"More like extremely manipulative and incredibly overrated."
Time and Again
"If you suddenly find yourself in 1882, and you're a man, for christ's sake stay there and never come back."
"Whenever I see an emdash before someone talks, a part of me dies inside. Actually whenever I see an emdash anywhere, I get a little twinge in my rectum."
The Hour of the Star
"The only thing more confusing than this book is realizing you emerged into the world from Ayelet Waldman's uterus."
The End of the Affair
"The first and last time anyone had sex with a civil servant and did not regret it."
"This was responsible for over 90 percent of Fredric Jameson's orgasms in the 1970s."
The Catcher in the Rye
"No subtler novel about a homosexual was ever written. Still, it should have been called A Bottom In the Bottom."
Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the childhood of Jorge Luis Borges. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.
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