Byron the Quokka bet me some gummy bears against a pound of eucalyptus leaves that I couldn’t re-read St. Brigid’s Bones without the rest of my hair falling out and my toes getting fused together. I didn’t dare take him up on it.
Every now and then you run into a novel that’s unforgettably bad, truly awesome in its awfulness: you can scarce believe it’s the work of human beings. St. Brigid’s Bones, by Philip Freeman, is worse than that.
You’d think it’d be fascinating to visit Ireland a few years after St. Patrick died, and watch the early days of an Irish Church that would go on to evangelize all Northern Europe. But being bombarded with cliches for a couple hundred pages will beat that out of you.
The street-smart nun (and they don’t even have streets!). The stern old abbess whose best friend is the local druid. They hang out and gossip together. The evil villain abbot who gets the tar waled out of him by the street-smart nun. A mystery that turns into just another shaggy dog story. This book has everything but athlete’s foot.
It leaves me wondering not only how books like this get published, but how they even get written in the first place. It can’t be that the author is so out of touch with contemporary culture that he simply can’t recognize a soap opera or an action movie cliche when he sees one. If he were that far out, he never would’ve learned to write at all. The author of this monstrosity is a respected academic. Which tells us something about our ability to assess the worth of any academic.
How do books this bad get written? I mean, I’ve read so many of them! Where do they come from?
I open the floor for discussion.