A Book You Should Never Read

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A Book No One Should Ever Read

I have a basic rule of thumb when it comes to reading books and that is- start what I finish. I don't know if it's my mildly obsessive compulsive nature or if it's my fear that by not finishing a book I will end up missing out on something potentially great. The only book I remember intentionally not finishing was one of Alexander McCall Smith's stupid detective books, which was so dreadfully boring and poorly written, I nearly died while reading it. However, he is apparently a well respected author who has sold far more books then I, so his drivel must sit well with most folks.

I would have gladly read all of Alexander McCall Smith's books, if it had meant that Whistle by James Jones had never been written. Whistle, also a classic and the third book in James Jones' World War Two Trilogy (The first two being From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line - Both of which were adapted into wonderful films) is perhaps the only book I have ever read, that made me feel dumber for having read it- and I really would have considered suing the author for the time I lost reading it, were it not for the fact that James Jones actually died while writing this hunk of crap. Let that be a warning sign to you all- if the author can't survive writing it, how on earth will you survive reading it?

So, what makes Whistle so terrible? I'm glad you asked. For starters, it's 452 looooong pages and it's poorly paced. The four main characters- Johnny Strange- Marion Landers, Lt. Winch and Bobby Prell- are indiscernible. They have been wounded in the War and are at the hospital ward recovering from their various wounds- physical, mental and emotional. They are all assholes who cheat on their wives/girlfriends throughout the text, they are all foul mouthed, they are all drunks, they are all utterly unlikable and I foung myself rooting against them- and, Jones does such a poor job telling the story- that I didn't even know what i was rooting against. I just knew by the end (spoiler alert) when all the characters were either dead or in the loony bin, that I was happy that these characters would no longer be roaming the face of the literary world.

The second major issue, and I'm not puritan- not by any means, was the graphic sexual nature of the story. Roughly two hundred pages of the book are used to discuss oral sex- the desire to perform, the desire to receive it and graphic depictions of it. While I am certainly not opposed to a good sex scene, Jones' obsession with it actually brings the story to a grinding (not pun intended) halt and is completely unnecessary to the furtherance of the story. The scenes are neither erotic nor artful. They are simply a waste of time and energy to read. They are simply there as filler.

In the authors own notes at the front of the book, he says that Whistle was going to say everything that Jones had to say about humanity and the horrors of war. All that Whistle said to me was that Jones was a dirty old man who should have spent his twilight years making love to his wife instead of writing this horrific travesty of a novel.

Why this book is considered a classic, I have no idea. Can someone explain this to me?


Thanks for Reading.

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Comments 30 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Jim, it could have bene really goos, but it really wasn't. I didn't read the other books, but I did see the films and they were excellent.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Audrey, it was definitely not an enjoyable read. it felt like a 2000 page story. It was stupid.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Actually, I read this trilogy and while Whistle does not measure up to the other two, itis a valuable book about the aftermath of men returning from a horrirble war, glad to be alive, suffering from survivor' s guilt, and scarred for life by the experience that the civilians around them can't grasp.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Don't know the book but it doesn't sound like it was a fun read in any respect!!!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

You're welcome. I want to protect my readers from wasting time!


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 5 years ago

Same here. Now I am protected from such drivel. Thanks!


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

Thanks for the warning. great Hub


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

hm. i don't remember nor do i remember why i read that book all the way through. I certainly wouldn't now. he's bat shit crazy! But, u should check out PJ O Rourke. He's very humorous. I think his ideaology is libertarian


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

If you remember his intro, he said,"You are . . . "

I said,"No I'm not. C-ya."


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

WD, I actually enjoyed Glen Beck's for some reason. it was like reading the final works before someone jumps off the cliffs of insanity. Michael, on the surface he's a hypocrite. i won't waste my time! For entertaining political writing, check out Milt Friedman or PJ O'Rourke. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

"if the author can't survive writing it, how on earth will you survive reading it?" Why take a chance.

I am no good at political stuff. I am an Independent and you can't avoid buzz words that trigger everyone's anger. I tried reading Glen Beck's book, "Common Sense" a direct rip-off of Thomas Paine (to dead to sue). I didn't make it half way through the intro. A friend gave me a book by Michael Moore. I made it through three pages. He is full of Black Cow, too. No wonder we are in a mess.

I know what you mean about sticking it out. "The Fixer", Bernard Malamud. The trudging style in the beginning set the atmosphere of the bleak existence of the main character. It picked up.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

ya. me too. I should take that time back form James Jones but, alas, he already sleeps with the fishes!


Andrea333 profile image

Andrea333 5 years ago

I will take your advice and not read it. Sorry you nearly lost your life during the reading of it! Lol. voted funny


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Denise, your pun made me LOL for real!

Molo, some people actually read the last chapter before they start the book. I don't get this at all, but, to each his/her own

Jami, thanks for reading and for voting. Very much appreciated!


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

Wow great write! and thanks for the well umm... info , i will say ..LOL i voted all the way up except beautiful of course , i loved this , it was great !:) and i wont read it either !


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago

Thanks I am the same,

when I start to read something I have to finish it and there have been a few that I could have done without reading.

I'll take your advice on this one.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks for the heads up (no pun intended)-I'll take your word for it. Interesting analysis about this man being a dirty, old man, aka 'horny teenager'. You're probably onto something Freudian here.

REgardless, he had two good writes, and one wrong one. I guess he can RIP (?)

Thanks for sharing your views on this subject.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Cyndi, indeed. This book is a big thumbs down. I don't actually know how it got published or became a bestseller. It's a hunk of crap


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 5 years ago from Georgia

Thanks for the "thumbs down" on this book. I read a lot, like pretty much everybody on hubpages I assume, but I too feel compelled to finish what I start. In fact I can only think of one book that I didn't finish. Not surprisingly, I can't even remember the name. It wandered a lot and the characters never came alive.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Ha, thanks Chris. And it's generally good advice!


chrisam01 profile image

chrisam01 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California, USA

I love the sarcasm in this piece. I like the intro about finishing what you start or risking -perhaps- missing something potentially great. Haha!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

well, when you think of one, let me know. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Nurfninja profile image

Nurfninja 5 years ago from Earth

Good advice, now I'll give you one....

can't think of any.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

ya, there's better books to read, like anything NOT by James Jones. Thanks for stopping by!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

I read a lot--so I think I might take a pass on this one


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Suzanne, you are probly right. I just wish I hadn't wasted time and money on it. Thanks for reading!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Well, sounds like a dreadful book! I will avoid it.

I love Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and I have read a few of his others and found them pleasant. I think all of his books really fall under the heading of "ladies' reading". I don't think they were written with male readers in mind.

Voted up & interesting! :)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

it's like this book was written by a inexperienced horny teenager


vmartinezwilson profile image

vmartinezwilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

I read a lot of books, so thanks for the heads up. I must compuslively finish any book I start no matter how horrible it is. If I am ever inclined to read overwrought, over detailed writing I'll go back and reread Interview with a Vampire again.


raburcke profile image

raburcke 5 years ago from Fuengirola, M├ílaga, Spain

I've never read it and if I should come across it, I won't!

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