Worst Reads Outed


By Ralph McAllister

Nothing like a new year to discourage some from reading what others might have recommended.

And vice versa.

The best story about The LUMINARIES is that in London a friend of a friend dropped the hardback and broke his toe!


‘Torture’ to  read!

Very seldom do I not finish a book.

Tortuous sentence perhaps, but then the following have offered their own kind of torture lately.

BARRACUDA by Christos Tsiolkas is another novel from the author of the much applauded THE SLAP.

This is the story of a champion ratbag swimmer who is as selfish and indulgent in his own way as the snobs at the C*** Grammar School he attends.

Redemption may be at hand in the second part.

Don’t bother to tell me.

PRAYER by Philip Kerr may be the worst of the year,even at this early stage.

The poor FBI man gives up on God  and does not believe in the Devil until…..yawn.

Some tortured souls may gain insight into this faith predicament but for most of us sticking to THE IDIOT or THE BIBLE will be infinitely preferable. 

A LIFETIME ON CLOUDS by Gerald Murnane is a limp (excuse me) imitation of Roth’s PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT, not helped by its Australian setting and a non-existent plot.

Seriously bad and the worst present I have had in years!

EYRIE by Tim Winton has Tom  down and out and living,sort of, in bleak, bleak Freemantle.

He befriends a woman and her grandson and the dynamics  are interesting,for a while.

But unlike Winton’s other novels, which I admire enormously,this lurches from depression to depression and with no redemption or hope of it.


Praised by many, but…

Finally,praised by many,and another book I could not finish, was NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH.

Richard Flanagan details the building of the Burma railway by POW’s for the Japanese during the Second World War.

Despite the fine writing this is a history in novel form which is only for the strong of stomach.



Next month I promise happier times as I have just finished  two crackers and negativity will not be allowed to reign supreme.

Good reading



It’s been my summertime quest to catch up on other opinions of ‘Luminaries’.

The first chapter all 330 plus pages of it was set on the same very rainy Hokitika day, and so my conclusion was that it was ‘overweight and sodden.’

The rest of the book, however, was a rip roaring tale of one of the most fascinating times in New Zealands’ history.

If only the conclusion had tied up all the loose ends, it would have made a week with my nose in it well worth it.

Why keep torturing yourself with male writers when there are so many excellent women to be read instead?