I was in a bookshop a week ago and came across a nice hardback of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, a book I read long ago. The hardback was a reprint of the first edition, and it felt hefty and slick and looked nice with its sewn binding and slipcase cover. A book about an architect ought to be well made.
It’s common to poke fun at Rand’s talent, and it’s mostly fair, this poking, because Rand wasn’t much of a writer. She was a fascinating woman, and the screenplay she wrote for the film version of The Fountainhead resulted in a terrific movie, with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal as the stars. The screenplay was the best thing she ever wrote.
I didn’t buy the nice hardback, but I did think about rereading The Fountainhead, because I liked it when I was a kid, and because I now think there are so many worse popular novels that one can make fun of, novels written by men who have somehow escaped the ridicule Rand receives. So I came up with a list, a list of popular novels worse than The Fountainhead. Here they are:
- A Confederacy of Dunces
- The Broom of the System
- A Man in Full
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao