Saturday, August 14, 2010

The worst book I've read in a long time.

I am a voracious reader - as I'm sure I've mentioned, I usually have 3 books on-the-go and I alternate between them, depending on mood (and purse size) - usually a non-fiction selection (eg.biographies), a non-intellectually-taxing, story-driven book (see: Best Seller List, mysteries etc.) and a thinking book (important literature, replete with symbolism, inscrutable plotlines and pretentious, critical acclaim).

At the end of June, we did a road-trip through upstate New York and down to the Baltimore area to enjoy some concerts (Furthur in Rochester, Phish x 2 at Merriweather, Phish at CMAC) and visit with friends whom we get to see way too infrequently. We had a fantastic time, saw some electrifying concerts and enjoyed plenty of local delicacies. I had hoped to devote a blog to the wonder & craziness of that trip, but this post is related entirely to a book that I purchased, on a whim, on the trip home.

I've always been a big fan of mafia/mob stories - Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos etc. I am endlessly entertained by these tales - I can't NOT watch Goodfellas when it's on TV - the compulsion is almost other-worldly. I own the box set of The Sopranos - and I have no idea how many times I've watched each episode - I even watch it when it's on TV (which is ridiculous, with all the censorship - "Forget you, TV Censors!).

Anyway - I saw this book and I thought, "Hey, that sounds entertaining!"

As I'm sure you have guessed, I could not have been more wrong.

The book was called "Family Affair - Greed, Treachery and Betrayal in the Chicago Mob" by "Sam Giancana and Scott M. Burnstein" (see picture of book above).

What we can deduce from the differing font sizes of the authors' names, "Scott M. Burnstein" is the alleged 'writer' who was pulled in to help Mr. Giancana with his elocution skills. And if that's true, Mr. Burnstein should have his writing credentials revoked, because this book was horrendous.

Story-wise, it was unfollowable. They did a horrible job of introducing the characters (which is an important element in seducing a reader) and they kept jumping between eras in the narrative - which is often an effective literary technique - but since they'd given us virtually no time to get to know the characters, it was extremely confusing. 

Then there was the bad writing/editting factor. I've never seen a more poorly written/editted book. And I've read a lot of books. This book was replete with grammatical errors, spelling errors, malapropisms - it was awful!

There were innumerable mis-uses of the apostrophe - repeat after me: An apostrophe never makes it plural!

There were several instances where the verb & the noun did not agree.

More than one case where they simply used the wrong word - for example, "flairs" instead of "flares", "wracket" instead of "racket" and, my personal favourite, "rouges" where they intended to use "rogues".

I tried to follow the story, with great difficulty - about 1/4 of the way in, I realized that the book was unreadable - but, by then, I had become interested in seeing just how many mistakes I could find.

So I carried on - I think I made it about half-way through before I stopped torturing myself & gave up.

Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend it.

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