I suppose for every ying there must be a yang, the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet. Lately I’ve been reading some of the “classics,” and just completed Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Prior to that I tried, I mean I really tried, to wade through the absolute worst book I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
I like books that are what they are and nothing else, and Treasure Island is an awesome tale of adventure - that’s it nothing else, nothing more. A mysterious old seaman, a treasure map, a double crossing pirate, a marooned sailor, an arrogant doctor and a stoic captain all give the young Jim Hawkins enough adventure – and riches – to last a lifetime. If you didn’t have to read it in school I recommend picking it up.
On the other hand, Ayn Rand’s nine hundred plus pages of cartoonish characters and unreal reality makes for one eye roll after the other. I’m sure that a lot of Rand fans would scream “oh you left winger you just don’t like the tale of rugged individualism,” but my argument is not with the story – stupid as it is – my problem is that the writing just plain sucks. The characters are flat – without any dimension or depth whatsoever - the dialogue could have been written by a fifth grader and the shallow silly world in which the story takes place makes Harry Potter seem realistic. Ayn Rand’s deep misunderstanding of the real world makes me wonder how she even managed to go to the grocery store for a bottle of milk. I suppose Ayn Rand gives all of us struggling writers hope: if that junk can get published well maybe – just maybe.