What made these three books so very disappointing is that in all cases the authors were people who I first encountered in my teens, at an age when books made their maximum and most lasting impact.
All the authors of the disappointments had previously published particular books that I greatly appreciated, and there had been a prolonged wait with expectations.
I had been hoping for some kind of a 'follow-up' that would provide me with something of the same quality and flavour I had received from the previous book; or at least be complementary.
1. The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien (1977)
I had appreciated The Lord of the Rings as no book before or since, having encountered it about a year before Tolkien's death, written to the author asking about its progress, and then waiting for four teenage-years for the publication.
When The Silmarillion was published, I immediately bought it in hardback and took it to college as a special treat - yet I found it so dull and... wrong that I could not finish it; and did not do so for many years.
2. Lila by Robert M Pirsig (1991)
This book came a decade and a half after I had been bowled-over by the author's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which had originally been lent me in 1976 by Bill Ryan on a month long Outward Bound course where he was a group-leader. I had bought myself a copy, another for the school library - and some as presents; I had exchanged a letter with the author, and published a critical essay.
As with The Silmarillion, I disliked the feel of the book, it seemed a bit sordid rather than having the freshness and hope of ZAMM. And its argument contradicted some of my favourite aspects of ZAMM. I've tried re-reading, but still feel the same. Very disappointing, for sure.
3. Seven Days in New Crete by Robert Graves (1949)
Robert Graves's I Claudius/ Claudius The God were the first grown-up novels I read after Lord of the Rings, when aged about 13 or 14. Soon afterwards I got The White Goddess (1948), and constantly consulted it, and brooded on it, through the following years. About a decade or more later I discovered in a biography that Graves has followed-up the WG - which is non-fiction (sort of..) by a novel that expressed the ideas; called Seven Days in New Crete. It took me ages to find a copy of this - but when I did, I was avid with anticipation...
But, as you will have guessed, I was extremely underwhelmed - on several levels. For a start, it is a poor novel qua novel - never comes to life, is just rather boring. But more damningly, Graves apparently regards his 'New Crete' as a kind of utopia, where the White Goddess rules and is worshipped - as Graves advocated for real-life, and which I had found persuasive in adolescence. Yet his depiction of the Goddess-dominated world was completely unappealing, and without a trace of the romance that permeated White Goddess. In sum: a dud.
Have readers had similar experiences of seriously-disappointed literary anticipation?