The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a curious little book, and one that I found fairly off-putting when I first read it. As most know, it deals with the story of a young Union Soldier and his experiences during a few days of battle. If you’re looking for the Glory of War, you won’t find it here, but you will find some very vivid storytelling. Even so, these reviewers walked away from “Badge of Courage” feeling wounded:

It is time to say it loud and clear: STEPHEN CRANE STINKS. Let his literary heritage rot and stop torturing innocent people with his books.

…and:

I’ve gained nothing by reading it, except hatred towards Crane’s writing style.

…and:

If you want to read about war, then I suggest that you pick up a Tom Clancy novel, and enjoy that than reading this crap!

…and:

I think the writers who raved about this book had to be drunk when they wrote those positive reviews.

…and:

I don’t know why anyone would want to read a book like this. My teacher made us read it. If you would like to read a good book, I would suggest something by Carol Matas, Gary Paulsun, Phillip Pullman, or J.R.R. Tolkein (which my teacher prounounces INcorrectely, and that just makes me MAD!)

…and:

THIS BOOK WAS SO BAD I HAD TO RENT THE MOVIE TO FINISH IT

…and:

Overall, the book was so horrendously bad that it may have ruptured the very fabric of space and time with the sheer uncontrollable force of its filth.

…and this, from a younger reader who advises that the book is best suited for “mature readers”:

I do recommend this book to people over 50 years of age and people who can’t take to much of anything at one time. But I do not reccomend this book to any one who is younger than 50 and likes some action and a book that keeps you reading.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller has the honor of its title becoming a true “catchphrase” in American Slang, and, sources say, a line in a Metallica song. A Catch-22 can be defined as “a general situation in which an individual has to accomplish two actions which are mutually dependent on the other action being completed first”. It’s a fairly good, if somewhat strange book. These reviewers don’t think this “Catch” is very fresh:

I can’t get through “Dracula” either and that’s just as highly praised, if not more so than “Catch 22”.

…and:

There are many myths that persist in modern life. One myth is that war is “meaningless”, “useless”, or “insane.” Another myth is that Catch-22 is a good book.

…and:

Just because some art freak with oily skin and a funny hat says a book is good, doesn’t make it an American classic. For lack of a better word, this book sucked.

…and:

many charecter.. hard readering. i could have summerized the point in a bout half a sentence

…and:

I has read this novel for a English Class in collage and I found it absolutely mortifying.

…and:

Obviously, a lot people were smoking a lot of weed in the sixties to think this thing is worth reading.

…but at least we now we know where Scott Adams got his inspiration:

The book is basically Dilbert in World War II.