Posts Tagged ‘bad writing’

Mere Anachrony: Atlas Shrugged

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W.B.O.A.T.

Ayn Rand is an odd figure in our political and cultural climate. She is one of the most popular authors of the twentieth century—her books have sold over 25 million copies—despite the fact that she wrote long, dense tomes about political philosophy. She’s beloved by many and hated by more. Yet many politicians tout the controversial Rand with a fervor usually reserved for Founding Fathers and Jesus.

Rand functions as a kind of ideological shibboleth, a password into the club of self-reliance and small government. But many readers also really love her. They cherish her books with a passionate intensity that’s impossible to ignore.

Although I’d read The Fountainhead—and liked it quite a bit more than I expected—I had never read Atlas Shrugged, which Rand herself considered her greatest work and which gets mentioned the most in discussions of her literature and philosophy. Given all the fuss about Rand and specifically this book, I felt like not reading it was a gap in my knowledge. What was it that Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Mark Cuban, and so many others found so exciting about this novel?

So I read it.

And at the risk of sounding intemperate, Atlas Shrugged is by far the worst book I’ve ever read. This is true on a purely aesthetic level, leaving aside Rand’s abhorrent philosophical views—though the philosophy embedded in the book only makes it much, much worse. The prose is tedious, the characters are absurd and the story is both repetitive and nonsensical. On virtually every page there is something to insult the reader’s intelligence. It is somehow both consistently infuriating AND incredibly boring. The English language is worse off for having been contorted into the shape of this misbegotten novel.

But allow me to elaborate… Continue reading

The Decline of The Office

the office

 

It’s always easier to analyze things in retrospect, and the demise of The Office, my one-time favorite show on television, is no different. In retrospect it’s easy to point to the third season premiere as the moment when things went south, but at the time I didn’t feel that way at all.

First, though, I should acknowledge that I’m in the minority. Most people probably object to the very premise of my account of the “the decline of The Office,” since the show has increased in popularity and prestige since I stopped watching. The Office is a perennial Emmy nominee and is still considered one of the best and smartest shows on television.

And there was a time when I would have been the show’s most vocal defender. During seasons one and two, I preached the virtues of the show to anyone who would listen. My friends and I (Tim and Josh included) counted down to episodes of the show and made references to it in daily conversations. We were particularly eager for the premiere of season three, “Gay Witch Hunt.” Continue reading