So you communicate as effectively as a gorilla does – actually, gorillas can actually be taught sign language… Let’s say you communicate as effectively as a llama with kicking and spitting being your most effective communication tools. But that doesn’t mean you can’t become a famous writer –albeit a horrible one.
“Genius, she thought. My father… Dad. Dead.”
So, let me see if you can figure out who wrote the atrocious sentence above. Much like his books, I will be giving you cryptic clues that you will have to decipher. He has a weird obsession with esoteric Catholic sects and the Vatican’s secrets; he likes to insinuate that classic works of art hide symbolism that help his protagonists find Holy Grails and other religious (if not fictitious) artifacts. If you guessed Stephen King, you’d be wrong (also, you might want to read one of his books before you start jumping to conclusions –when has Stephen King ever written about the Catholic Church?) I’ll give you another clue… Tom Hanks… da Vinci… An albino monk assassin (did I seriously just write “albino monk assassin?)
Did you just mutter “Dan Brown”?! Ding, ding, ding, ding! Good job! And I only had to describe three of the four main points of the movie based on his novel for you to figure it out.
Well, yes, it might come as a surprise to you, but Mr. Brown is one of the most criticized contemporary writers out there. As evidenced by the sentence I used as the header for this entry, his prose is a bit juvenile – please, Dan Brown fans, don’t attack me; it’s what his critics say, who also happen to be writers for the Financial Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post, so I’m going to assume they know what they are talking about. Honestly, though, how good of a writer can you be if you cite Writing the Blockbuster Novel as the book that inspired you to write your first novel?
The most intriguing (or damning, should I say) fact is that Dan Brown and his wife Blythe work closely during the penning of his books, and he frequently notes her both as his inspiration and the researcher of the books’ historical accuracy. He has even gone on record saying that his wife was a huge da Vinci fanatic, so much so that she actually piqued his interest in the inventor, artist, and literal definition of a Renaissance man. So, considering that Blythe Brown did the research and liked da Vinci, it’s very likely that Mr. Brown just filled the in-between bits.
I personally have no gripe with the man; he became rich by writing what people like to read, even if it is bad… He just panders to the masses… Oh, speaking of which:
People hear what they want to hear. They also buy what they want to read, and who doesn’t want to hear/read “It’s going to be alright” with the literary equivalent of a reassuring pat on the back? Enter the panderer. A writer who writes books by superfluously filling pages upon pages of overoptimistic, stomach-churning drivel – and yet people eat the shit up!
One of the most famous and frequently Facebook-quoted of the panderers is Paulo Coelho. I know I’m going to get all kinds of blowback for this, but so be it; I’m a cynical, dark bastard who has no remaining faith in humanity. But that’s exactly what Coelho panders to: that the world sucks. Here’s a lollypop with a patronizing head pat.
Under the guise of narrative, Coelho constructs painfully obvious symbolism that deals with sickeningly sweet, G-rated themes of Saturday morning cartoons. He creates pompous and overinflated constructs such as his “Personal Legends”, in 1988’s The Alchemist, which allude to themes of untapped potential and the pursuit of one’s dreams. His work is so fluffy and cotton-candy sweet that I would imagine he watches marathons of Care Bears and My Little Pony while writing…
You know, I can respect someone that just does their thing and it resonates with enough people to make them rich, but Coelho is an idiot, too. In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, Coelho attacked none other than James Joyce’s seminal work Ulysses saying it was nothing of substance, just style (paraphrased, of course. I’m not really fluent in Portuguese). This comes from a man that dedicated a whole book to sentences that would feel at home on the inner part of a Hallmark card… No, seriously. Look, let’s play “Greeting Card or Coelho”:
- “Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”
- “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
- “When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple.” (That’s what enthusiasm is, you f*cking jackass!)
- “MySpace is my wife... Facebook is my mistress.” (Okay, that was cheating because it’s not even in a book, but I just wanted to prove to you that this guy is an idiot).
- “Music for me, it demands full concentration.” (He also finds chewing gum and walking without tripping extremely challenging, as well as breathing while counting and riding a bicycle while looking to his side).
- “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”
Okay, so I know I kinda veered to the spiteful towards the end, but again, it’s to illustrate that he has about as much literary gravitas as a motivational poster. Honestly, I think he should stop writing books and just monetize Facebook quotes – he should be able to double his money!
There is another panderer that must get an honorable mention, and that is none other than the insufferably recommended The Secret by a certain Rhonda Byrne. One of things it says is that a major key to success is gratitude and visualization, i.e.: if you want a burrito, you need to be as thankful as if you already have it and you must visualize receiving said burrito… Or you can just go to Taco Loco and be done with it.
So, the last type of crappy writer I will dedicate my energy to is what I’d like to call “the Sticky”. Although romantic pulp fiction has been masturbation fodder for many a lonely soccer mom, a certain someone that I will mention a little bit later did it in a glorifying horrid way. From unnatural dialogues to illogical character reactions and the generic nature of those characters, this orgasm rag is so bad it could be a “what not to do” for aspiring writers. Well, a “what not to do” if you want to be well-known as a very wealthy but shitty writer. If you haven’t figured out who I’m talking about, I’m referring to the author of 50 Shade of Grey, E.L. James.
So much energy and forethought went into this book that the author says she wrote most of it on her smartphone on the can (okay, okay, fan-boys/girls, on her way to work). Well, it reads like that at least; some of the lines in it are as labored as bowel movement after a hearty 6lb meal of meat and potatoes. But that’s beside the point… Some of the themes in the book send the feminist movement back about 50 years: from psychological abuse to a heavily subservient lead female protagonist to the fact that the male protagonist forces the female protagonist to sign a contract to have sex with him. Because, as we all know, that’s exactly the dynamic of human sexuality.
Let’s even ignore the fact that it reinforces a kind of f*cked-up, gold-digging adolescent infatuation thing were the female protagonist swoons over an extremely wealthy, mysterious, brooding man. Yes, and that’s how unoriginal the whole thing is: the female protagonist, as mentioned above, is a timid, mousey college student who also happens to be a virgin… YES, A FUCKING VIRGIN! Okay, I’m done; I’ll let this turd of a novel smear itself:
- “She’s oil on my troubled, deep, dark waters.”
- “I have never slept with a woman. I’ve f*cked many, but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My c*ck agrees.”
- “And there she is: disarming once more, surprising me at every turn. My c*ck concurs.” (I’d like to note at this point that it seems that the protagonist’s genitals are probably smarter than the person that penned them as such.)
- “Miss Steele is a carnal creature. She will be a joy to train. My c*ck twitches in agreement.” (I’m just saying if your ding-a-ling is sentient, you might what to find an urologist, not a girlfriend).
- “She looks radiant. My c*ck agrees and stiffens in greeting.”
DUDE, ENOUGH WITH THE MAN’S APPENDAGE!
Anyway, I have tapped out. If you have any other horrible writers that you think deserve a place on this list, feel free to let me know in the comments section below… I’m going to go clean my palate of this tripe with some Burroughs.