1.) Thomas Pynchon — Who has the time or patience for Pynchon? I know everyone’s all ga-ga over the new Pynchon, Against the Day, but I gave up 15 years ago with Vineland. Don’t even bother letting me know how the new book is. I really don’t care.
2.) Julian Barnes — Barnes has been repeatedly shortlisted for the Booker Prize, I know, but A History of the World in 10½ Chapters was just too much for me. If having one chapter narrated by a woodworm hadn’t been enough to turn me off (oh, it was), all the subsequent references to ships (I hate novels about sailing) and all the postmodernist theory (yawn) would have. Yikes.
3.) Jane Hamilton — My old book group read A Map of the World (before it became one of Oprah’s selections, mind you), and it left me feeling incredibly impatient. Let’s see. The two-year-old daughter drowns while she’s on the protagonist’s watch. A short time later, the protagonist is falsely accused of sexual abuse. Oh, and the family farm is failing, too. Did I mention the protagonist’s debilitating depression? Gosh, how could I have omitted that? What next, Hamilton? Why not just send in locusts, famine, and pestilence, too? Please.
4.) Tom Robbins — I tried Another Roadside Attraction. I tried Jitterbug Perfume. I just felt dizzy. Ugh. And, hey, I’m being fair. I’m not even holding Gus Van Sant’s awful film treatment of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues against Robbins.
5.) John Irving — I was probably too young when I first tried to read The World According to Garp. A few years later, though, I still didn’t care. Maybe Irving’s speaking to the generation or two before mine? Or to an upper-middle class audience? Or to a particular upper-middle class audience that existed 30 years ago? Or to no one?
Honorable mention: William Kennedy, author of Ironweed.