Bad Novels! (Or, What The Hell Did I Just Read?!)

I’ll be announcing the winner of H.C. Brown’s contest (simply see the post below this one) tomorrow. In the meantime, however, I wanted to take a minute or two and parse this gem I learned about from Publisher’s Weekly. Kindly refrain from reading this if you are eating, drinking, or there is any possibility you may need to use the bathroom. I will NOT be responsible for any property damage incurred.

With that disclaimer out of the way, on to the show.

You see, it seems every quarter or so, they find a book that is so hideously, demoralizingly bad that for a reader to merely let their eyes roam over the cover assures they will sacrifice fifty IQ points to the mighty god “Durrrrr….”

I can say this with some authority, having just read some choice snippets from one such book. I flatly refuse to name it here, for one simple reason: I can spell. Not only is the cover beyond cheesy (unfortunate, but not a crime) but simply reading the first paragraph of the first chapter left me with a brain cramp that simply would not go away.

I’m all for someone putting themselves out there, warts and all, and seeing what they can make of their stories. Hell, I did it myself with Shadowphoenix: Requiem. Is it a masterpiece of modern literature? Probably not. The Great American Novel? Pardon me while I snicker into my sleeve. (Again.) Is it as tightly written or edited as it might have been? Certainly not. In the last eighteen months, I’ve learned almost as much about writing as I had in the previous fifteen years.

However, for all that, I at least made an effort. I “showed” far more than I “told,” ensured my spelling was absolutely letter perfect (unless I had a compelling reason NOT to, as in certain sequences of dialogue), and USED QUOTATION MARKS!

In the particular opus that sparked this rant, none of the above conditions are met. Okay. This wouldn’t be the first author I’ve ever encountered who didn’t have the patience or temperament to deal with the fussy and obscure “rules” of English literature and decided to hurl their work to the wolves. That takes a considerable amount of chutzpah and a lot of very large spheroids, and I can applaud that. But what really astounded and puzzled me is that this author not only had the gall to put out TWO sequels, but managed to delude a number of other people into considering his work “real literater.” (I wish to God I was making THAT up . . . )

In a very real and non-exaggerated way, the reviews on Amazon for this particular book are much more entertaining than the book itself. These people are falling all over themselves to be the first to hail this author as a literary genius, a kind of Everyman of American letters. One particularly vehement apologist for this author stated that she enjoyed his work because “he writes like people talk.”

I choked on my tea and cast a longing glance at the bottle of Captain Morgan Rum atop my refrigerator when I read that. I don’t give a damn if it was 9:30 a.m. when I read that, some things just shouldn’t have to be endured, least of all in the morning, without a little medicine to help smooth out the rough edges. However, I feel very noble and virtuous in reporting that I read the entire article, start to finish. And then noticed something that seemed so ludicrous it demanded further investigation. Three articles later, my cramping brain demanded I give it a reprieve or risk my skull exploding.

That such a novel could make its way onto the virtual bookshelves is, tragically, not far-fetched at all. What really horrifies me is the TWO SEQUELS! If you’re wondering why self-published works get no respect, it’s because novels like this one exist.

I’d like to say more . . . but I just poured myself a glass of rum. Now I’m going to huddle under my blankets and try to convince myself this has all been a horrible nightmare. Hopefully I’ll emerge to a world that’s sane and safe for literature.

But I’m not holding my breath.

If you’d like to see what exactly I’m on about, you can find the link HERE. Like I said . . . I refuse to speak the name of this abomination on my site, for fear of drawing that very cacodemon to my own demesne.

Until next time,


J.S. Wayne