Name a book or author that you truly wanted to love but left you disappointed. (And, of course, explain why.)
Sadly, there are a number, more so specific books than authors. For whatever reason, though, the one that comes immediately to mind is Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest.
In naming it my “biggest disappointment” of 2007, I said the book “took an interesting concept — the story of Hitler’s childhood from the perspective of the demon assigned by the devil to supervise him — and made it vapid.” Similarly, my review of the book ended by saying, “Given that The Castle in the Forest is promoted as an exploration of that struggle [between good and evil], it ultimately comes off as an almost banal rendition of not only that topic but evil itself.”
Just think. One of our country’s most respected authors wants to explore good and evil in the context of Hitler, demons and the devil. The possibilities were endless, simply not achieved or greatly underachieved.
Yet I’m not the only one who had issues with the book. Mailer actually won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award in 2007 for a passage that said a male member was “as soft as a coil of excrement.” That certainly must qualify as a disappointment for such a literary star.
Unfortunately, Mailer died about 10 months after the book was released. Not the way to end your literary legacy.
Life’s disappointments are harder to take when you don’t know any swear words.