In preparation for a new project, I've been reading my way through an author's works and have finally come across a moment--all right, several moments--in which the most generous thing to say is that Homer was nodding at that point.
Are there any authors whose works are consistently even and excellent? Don't most authors have books excused with phrases like "She was going through a bad patch" or "She had to make some money with this one" or "If only she hadn't let Editor X get hold of it"?
Sometimes, if a work is flagrantly awful, we can excuse it in a different way: "It's a satire of a bad novel, see? That's why all the situations are so clichéd; it's an ironic take on that form."
I have a certain weakness for flawed books, if only because they show that the author is trying to do something different. I'm not exactly talking about bad fiction, which can be fun in a whole different way, but good fiction gone horribly wrong in some way, the kind that makes you want to knock on the author's tombstone and ask, "What were you thinking?"
So now I'm at the end of a novel whose main character is supposed to be a great figure and whose author has endowed him with what ought to be admirable attributes--and I can't stand him. Let me put it this way: I not only think he's a less-than-admirable person, but he's drawn poorly--his motivations make no sense, the foils that surround him are thinner than the paper they're printed on, and his actions are inconsistent. Oh, and the book, while well written generally, abounds in clichés like "piping hot," for which I have an irrational aversion from reading too many tray placemats describing the coffee at McDonald's over the years.
Maybe I'm just not getting it--always a possibility--but then again, maybe Homer is nodding here. Am I just asking too much? Are there any authors who haven't written a clunker from time to time?
(And please list some memorable clunkers in the comments!)