(I was asked why I dislike the novel Atlas Shrugged so much; I answered; people asked me to make the answer rebloggable, and so I have. All of this, as always, is offered with the caveat that I might be—and often am—wrong.)
1. Atlas Shrugged is a novel of ideas. The plot exists only so that Ayn Rand can lay out her set of philosophical beliefs. So it’s the kind of book that makes you feel smart because you “get it,” but the story itself is paper-thin and is carefully constructed to explain and celebrate Rand’s objectivism. I have an inherent problem with novels of ideas, because I think they fail to do most of what is interesting and useful about fiction, but I particularly dislike them when the ideas are bad ideas.
2. The philosophy of objectivism is absolutely repugnant to me (and also does not hold up to scrutiny). The philosophy of selfishness is all built around the idea that the person ingesting the philosophy feels special (i.e., that we all identify with John Galt), and of course we do all identify with John Galt, because we all feel that the world is against us and we are secretly a unique flower that could bloom brilliantly if only we did not have to carry the weight of other, lesser people.
But the fact that when we read Atlas Shrugged we all identify with the elite is itself evidence of the book’s crappiness, because either A. only extraordinary people happen to read Ayn Rand, or B. we all feel extraordinary, because we are so busy being our multitudinous and complex and extraordinary selves that we do not imagine other people as being as complex or interesting or extraordinary as we are.
All of my novels are written in persistent and direct opposition to the ideas put forth in Atlas Shrugged, and since there is nothing to the novel except its ideas (the language of the novel imho could not be less interesting), it follows logically that I would strongly dislike the book.