Actually I was thinking of classic as in the literature sense.
WAIT. HOLD ON.
Before you think, “Oh, God. Literature? Next stop yawns-ville” give it a chance. What I propose is to burst the bubble on a couple of books you probably had to endure in high school. They are and have been considered classics. Classic? Um, not so much. I’ll only pick on a couple and tell you what your teachers would not or could not. First up:
“To Kill a Mockingbird”
Already there are a lot of intellectuals (ladies mostly) who are probably trying to figure out how to give me a classic smack down. Atticus Finch, they’ll say, is the greatest literary hero…ever. But here’s the thing: most people who say it’s the greatest book ever never even read the book. They’re referring to the film with Gregory Peck. Yes that is a classic also (rightfully so) and one of the things that saves the book. There is a ton –and I mean a ton—of crap in the book that the film wisely took a chainsaw, a ripsaw and a blowtorch to.
When people tell me how much they loved reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” I like to test them a bit by saying, “Me too! And you know, Aunt Alexandra is my favorite character!” Usually, you can tell by their expression they’re thinking of the film and not the book. Sometimes they’ll even come clean and say, “Aunt who?” The reason they don’t recognize the character is because the filmmakers wisely killed her off before they even began thinking of making the book into a film. I’m hoping they killed her off in some slow, horrendous unspeakable way, because she is one of the most singularly annoying characters (second only to one I’ll mention in just a minute) in all of literature. Aunt Alexandra represents socioeconomic prejudice in mind-numbing amounts.
There’s a reason Harper Lee only wrote one book. Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but she’s kind of a crappy writer. The big scene, the trial of Tom Robinson that forever after associated Gregory Peck as Atticus, only lasts 46 pages in a paperback that is 376 pages long. The rest of the book is Lee making a point about various forms of prejudice, which is commendable, but she beats it into the ground –and I’m not talking with a shovel kind of beat it into the ground. I’m talking beat it with a shove, then take a sledgehammer to it, then roll over it with a dump truck kind of beat it into the ground. What’s worse is that much of the remaining 330 pages are filled with the annoying Aunt Alexandra. However, as annoying as her character is, she can’t hold a candle to the main character in the next ‘classic.’
“Catcher in the Rye”
If you’ve had to fight your way through this ‘classic’ before, then you will know exactly who I mean: Holden Caulfield. I think there’s a very good reason J. D. Salinger became a recluse. After unleashing the ultimate in annoying characters on society he probably thought it would be much safer behind closed doors…made of metal…three inches thick…with heavy bars and chains…and locks, lots and lots of locks.
The novel starts with what many consider one of the greatest opening lines in all of literature. But the reality is that it opens with Holden (in a first-person narration) bitching about how he doesn’t even want to tell his story. I won’t give you the entire line (hey, that’s what Wikipedia is for), but the first eight words “If you really want to hear about it…” The thing is, within about two pages he whines, bitches, and moans so much that I REALLY didn’t want to hear about it. I get that the Holden Caulfield character embodies teen angst, depression, cynicism, isolation, etc., etc., and that it’s supposedly a reflection of society, but let me tell you this about how annoying Holden is: one of the most empathetic, sweetest, always-gives-you-cookies-when-you-see-her old ladies I know wanted to choke him out by the fourth page. And there are 220 more pages to go.
I’ll leave classic smack downs there for now, but may be forced to pick it up again in the future.
Wait till you see the beating I give Huckleberry Finn.
* If you agree with my assessments on the aforementioned classics, click the ‘like’ button below and it will register your vote. If you disagree with my assessment, I’m okay with that. Just click the ‘like’ button below to record your vote. My classic software will sort it all out. Feel free to also visit my Facebook page. I’ll try to leave something open there if you’d care to respond.