The Corinthian

corinthian-georgette-heyer-paperback-cover-artby Georgette Heyer
2009 Sourcebooks, Inc.
(First published 1940)

Method of selection: Jesus gave it to me
First sentence: The company, ushered by a disapproving butler into the yellow saloon of Sir Richard Wyndam’s house in St James Square, comprised two ladies and one reluctant gentleman.
Number of perverted sexual acts I imagined doing with the babe on the cover: 4
Number of perverted sexual acts I actually did with the cover: 1
Number of states where this perverted but highly satisfying sexual act is illegal: 49
States where it is now legal: Oregon, duh
Number of states that have seen their library budgets explode since this perverted sexual act was legalized in 2007: 1
Stitches required to repair the papercuts on my scrotum: The doctor said he lost count

Other reviews: Small Review, Reading For Sanity, The Book Smugglers, AustenProse

This is the story of people of English High Society constantly attempting to avoid offending the mores of English High Society, of constantly offending the mores of English High Society, and of constantly being offended how others offend the mores of English High Society. People are offended about each others’ style of dress, of how they speak, of how they behave, of the homes they live in and the company they keep. They are offended by spoons and trains and doctors and large bodies of water. And they feel constantly sorry for themselves while simultaneously pitying others. Everyone thinks everyone else is coarse and unsavory, and they’re all just so displeased with the whole state of everything everywhere. The first three pages include:

  • the butler’s disapproval
  • a deprecating glance
  • [his] craven speech
  • a look of indulgent contempt

…and much much more. And you might say this just sounds like a Jane Austen novel, and certainly Georgette Heyer was open about that influence. But Jane Austen wrote satire and pithy commentary about social stratification. Georgette Heyer wrote historical romance, a genre which she almost single-handedly invented. In particular, she created this sub-sub-genre called Regency romance, which is set in the brief pre-Victorian Regency era.

How did the British empire manage to survive and procreate through the 19th century if they were all so disgusted about each other all the time? The answer is, of course, by raping their servants. But Georgette Heyer doesn’t talk about that, or about sex at all, because that would offend the ladies of the slightly lower class society that read this crap. So would the rampant syphilis, cholera, polio, and tuberculosis, the lack of sanitation, the dead babies everywhere all the time, the racism, and the universal domestic violence that marked all olden times. This was a time when you could actually die of diarrhea. Like, 4/5ths of the population of the 19th century died of diarrhea or an earache. Everyone else was beaten and molested. And while that may be hyperbole I didn’t actually have to stretch the truth that much. That’s why no one should ever call this kind of book “historical fiction”. It’s fantasy.

On the other hand, Georgette Heyer may have been a genius. She certainly captures the bloated, meaningless rhetoric that so entertained the masses of the 19th century. Rhetoric that says anything but what it’s actually trying to say. It is perhaps understandable that in a world without videogames or bumfight videos, decades before the invention of even the “Ball’s orb”, and with everyone swarming with parasites and venereal disease, that making complicated face noise was the only decent form of entertainment. So I give her some credit. Georgette Heyer may have written shitty books, but she crafted them, sculpted them like a gleaming shitty turd. She was known for her attention to detail and cultural accuracy. And I respect that. But I can’t read it. I can’t read it any more than I can read Latin, or Hebrew, or what girls are thinking when I’m having sex on them.

Luckily for me, she’s dead and can’t write any more of these.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)


pegasusby Danielle Steel
Delacorte Press (Random House) 2014

Method of selection: Brought down a Malaysian jetliner with its shittiness. Found floating in the South China Sea, bone dry and in perfect condition. Possibly the world’s most evil shitty book.
First sentence: It was already nightfall when the stable boys heard the horses approaching.
Final sentence: Pegasus had come home.
Plot that happens in between which I made up: A cybernetic clan of hive-mind horses is sent from the future to exterminate the human race, in retribution for the years they spent enslaved to the circus. But, unable to find the cybernetic future oats they need to power their fusion bobsleds, and with their visionary horse leader, Pegasus, perishing ignominiously in a glue factory, they are ironically reduced to performing in a horse circus to survive, forced to prance around for the rest of their cybernetic lives, which is the one thing horses hate the most.
Books that are still worse than this: the Bible, James Patterson’s autobiography, Lady Chaddiwickington’s Horse-Fancier’s Guide to Horse Prancing

Other reviews: Momzinga, Always Me

This is a book about horses. Pretty pretty white fancy horses prancing prettily and doing cartwheels page after page after pretty white page. Did I mention they’re fancy? Also white. And pretty. And possibly Nazi horses. I know this because horses are referred to 14 times in the first three pages. If you include horse-related words like “stable boys” and “sidesaddle” and “riding school” and “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DERP)” it’s more like 30-35. Also, the horses’ bloodlines are pure. This is a book about the horse master race and the donkey genocide. Supposedly it’s also about an aristocratic German family and the Nazis, but seriously, this is a book about horses. It’s horse porn. And thank god all the gay marriage prohibitions have been repealed in America because after the public reads this there will be an unstoppable wave of horse marriages. Which means I can finally do the right thing and marry your mom.

The writing itself is full of words which say things, but I’m not sure what. There’s a fox hunt, some detail about horse dancing, and something about somebody’s mother dying in childbirth, but it was glossed over so it must not be important. Little happens, except for the riders returning from the fox hunt, with ladies riding sidesaddle (of course, because this is a fancy book about fanciness and fancy horses shooting horse cum everywhere) and horses prancing. There is no shortage of prancing in the first three pages.

The synopsis also claims this is a book of “hope and sacrifice, tragedy, challenge, and rebirth”. This is accurate. I hoped it wouldn’t be shitty, but it was, so I sacrificed my dignity to read it, reflecting on the tragedy of the life of a grown man who pecks out unread words for a virtual world that gives nothing back to him, challenging myself to do something more meaningful with my life, and ultimately being reborn as an angrier, more cynical shitty book reviewer.

Fuck this book. And fuck you. And fuck every horse that ever lived and the people who make them prance.

Also, fuck Danielle Steel’s kids. She has nine of them, and dedicates this book to them, an act tantamount to pony punching, and there’s nothing lower than punching a pony. Look:

Beatie, Trevor, Todd, Nick, Sam, Victoria, Vanessa, Maxx, and Zara,
To history, magic, survival, and new lives,
To the Pegasus in each of our lives, to carry us forward,
And the courage to pursue him bravely and embrace him.
I love you so very much

I’m not sure what “d.s.” stands for. Maybe “duck slavery” or “dog shoving”? What a mean lady. She really hates animals.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Ghost Ship

Ghost Shipby CLIVE CUSSLER and graham brown
GP Putnam’s Sons (Penguin) 2014

First sentence: The SS Waratah plowed through the waves on a voyage from Durban to Cape Town, rolling noticeably with the growing swells.
Novels recently published with a similar title: Ghost Ship (2014) by Robert Palmer; The Ghost Ship (2014) by CF Miller; The Ghost Ship (2014) by John C Hutcheson; Ghost Ship (2012) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; Ghost Ship (2011) by PJ Alderman; The Ghost Ship (2011) by Gerrie Ferris Finger; Ghost Ship (2007) by Mary Higgins Clark; Ghost Ship (2006) by Dietlof Reiche
Method of selection: looked for unoriginal titles
Number of Hardy Boys adventures involving a ghost ship: 30 (31 if you count the Mystery of the Ghost Barn, which mostly takes place at sea. Experts are split on this.)
Stages of grief passed through due to not hating this: anger, bargaining, huffing

Other reviews: Lavendar and Lime

Do you have any idea how painful it is for me to not hate this? Look, it had all the trappings of a shitty book: a terrible title, an overdone cover with giant block CAPS lettering, a New York Times bestselling author, a CO-author, even a prologue — which by the way, I went back and read out of curiosity after making it easily through the first three pages. The writing is descriptive without flamboyance, the dialogue is reasonably believable, not snarky, and I even liked the font (Times New Dogsled if I’m not mistaken).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from literature, and I have not elbowed out extra time in my busy schedule of kite-stealing and church-punching to read it, but Clive Cussler, Graham Brown, and the twenty-or-so editors at Putnam clearly burned the midnight oil to create an epic of just-barely-not-shittiness.

What exactly are the NUMA® files and why is NUMA® a registered trademark? I did some research, and NUMA® is the National Underwater Marine Agency®, a 501c3 non-profit founded by Clive Cussler® to “preserve maritime heritage” and also to help him sell Dirk Pitt® and Kurt Austin® series novels. Now, all those registered trademarks don’t come cheaply or without a lot of paperwork, which means one of two things: either Clive Cussler worried someone would try to steal his shitty ideas (WRONG) or someone actually tried to steal his shitty ideas already (OMG).

I paged around a bit and did find some shittiness creeping in on page 21, the start of chapter three, and more at the start of chapter four, a few pages later. The writing begins to get cheesier, and more cliche.

Perhaps poor Graham Brown wrote a shitty book that originally began at chapter three, and Clive Cussler stepped in to save it; perhaps the reverse. Perhaps a young, enterprising editor realized the reputation of the good imprint he had recently come into the employ of, GP Putnam, would be forever tarnished should they print a shitty novel and stepped in to correct it. Whatever the case, it is clear now that authors and publishers are making a cold-hearted and cynical ploy to circumvent my own untarnishable review process of just reading the first three pages. But avast, I was too cunning for such reckless bamboozlement! I therefore relegate this book not to the Not Shitty category, but a new category, Not Shitty on a Technicality. Take that ye scurvy dogs!

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

The Lords of Salem

lordsofsalemby Rob Zombie and B.K. Evenson
Grand Central Publishing 2013

Method of selection: Found in a shark’s belly. It was dead of shitty book poisoning.
First sentence: She awoke.
Worst sentence: Again, something was held beneath her nose and the smell thrust like a knife deep into her brain and some things grew clearer and others less so.
The first chapter ends: And then she died.
Things that have actually scared me more than this book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows; The Wizard of Oz; Falkor, from The Never Ending Story

Other reviews: None. I don’t even want to promote other people promoting this book. It’s that shitty.

This isn’t scary. Or good writing. I’m glad they specified on the cover that this is “A Novel”. I had originally thought it was some kind of gay reindeer and attempted to ride it to the North Pole. Even the librarian thought it was a reindeer!

When I first saw that horror groove metal pioneer Rob Zombie had written a novel I expected that it would be shitty. And it was. He teamed up with former Mormon and academic BK Evenson, and it’s hard to tell who’s carrying whom here. I think Evenson probably did the adjectives and verbs and Mr. Zombie did the nouns, Mad Lib style. Their first writing date probably went like this:

Evenson: First, give me a type of person. A person who frowns.
Zombie: Let’s see…an old lady!
Evenson: Yes! Now the old lady is cloaked in something. Something dark.
Zombie: A cloak!
Evenson: Heehee [writing it down]. Perfect! Now I need another noun. Something that glints.
Zombie: Do knives glint? Knives are cool. One time I saw this show where they sold real swords on TV. Like from the knights and stuff.
Evenson: That’s so radical! I saw that too and they had the one sword that was, like, all gnarled and had like spikes all over it…. Let’s see…now how about something scary that happens?
Zombie: A ritualized cesaerian section!
Evenson: Hmmm, I don’t know. Is there anaesthesia?
Zombie: No! It’s, like, in olden times.
Evenson: [writing furiously] This is gonna be hilarious!

There is also a movie written and directed by Rob Zombie with the same name, which brilliantly stars Rob Zombie’s wife, but from what I can tell from the trailer it’s a different story. Neither appear to be scary, which brings me to my first point. Witches are not scary. They never were scary. And Salem is also not scary. I live in Massachusetts. Salem is a bland north shore community with Halloween-themed family-friendly entertainment. Children have never been scared of witches or of Salem. They’re scared of bog monsters and flying dogs. So please tell Rob Zombie to upgrade his SCAREware (copyrighted).

Which brings me to my second point: It’s very very difficult to get famous writing novels. And this isn’t meant to be a joke at all. It’s extraordinarily hard work and even some of our most well-known writers would not be recognized in public, and there aren’t that many to begin with who are still living. But if you’re already famous, it is super easy to get a book deal. And it doesn’t have to be good. And what does that tell us about book publishing? That it’s a business. This book is about making money and nothing else. Please don’t buy it. Not even to support this site. It’s not even funny.

(Please do not support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)


doomedby Chuck Palahniuk
Doubleday (Random House) 2013

First sentence: Good and evil have always existed.
First too-snarky sentence: I’m a piggy-pig-pig, oink-oink, real porker.
Another too-snarky sentence: I would not be stuck here on the stony Galapagos that is Earth, drinking the warm tortoise urine that is human companionship, were it not for the Halloween caper cutting of a certain three Miss Slutty O’Slutnicks.
Still more snark: …on All Hallow’s Eve the entire population of Hades returns to Earth to forage for salted nut clusters and Raisinettes from dusk until midnight.
But the worst is still to come: To you predead people, like it or not, postalive people are not your bitches.
Number of pterodactyls I saw while reading the first three pages: 4 (perhaps 3, might have seen the same one twice)
Benzodiazepines I took in order to finish three pages: Ativan, Serax, plus some Benadryl for my shitty book allergies
Side effects of these medications may include: pterodactyl sightings

Other reviews: iamjanesheart, 3 guys 1 book, Life in 64 Square Feet, Bookhounds

That’s come, right? On the cover? That was intentional, right? A bukkake scene on the cover of one of Random House’s most respected imprints? Somebody spoke up, right? RIGHT? Well, if it was intentional, consider me…not that shocked really.

I loved Fight Club. I’ve read it and reread it. I have disliked everything else Chuck Palahniuk has published. He usually manages to catch my attention early on, but it never lasts and there is a wake of barely-read Palahniuks trailing behind me. Is he, therefore, a shitty author?

One thing shitty book authors do frequently is take an otherwise uninteresting scene, in this case a Lincoln Town Car (Ford must be paying authors to mention them) leaving a gated estate in the hills above Los Angeles, and transform it into epic, supreme holy business, in this case the fulfillment of a prophecy sung by ancient Egyptian oracles. It is too hard to write two or three sentences describing a car driving, and all the ugly shit that comes along behind it in simple terms, including lights being extinguished and rats being crushed. The author wants you to believe it’s important. It isn’t. It’s a prologue.

Shitty authors also like using odd devices they think clever to unfurl the narrative. In this case, each chapter is a timestamped “post” to an unnamed “web log” by the main character Madison Spencer, from her email address on the afterlife.hell server. It was in this way Chuck Palahniuk tricked me into reading that prologue, which I usually try to skip because it’s always shitty and useless and this one was no different. It’s no wonder, then, that I felt sick to my stomach after reading this flash-fiction-pulp-fiction irrelevant piece of shit that is the prologue, like eating a piece of cake dragged across some smelly dicks.

So then I read the first three pages of the real book and it it actually got worse. Madison Spencer is a ghost. A snarky ghost. A fat snarky ghost. Who escaped Hell. It feels like bad science fiction. It feels like tongue-in-cheek chick-lit. It feels like young adult fiction. It feels amateurish.

This is a blog about shitty books, not about shitty authors. Chuck Palahniuk wrote a great book that was important to me when I was 19, but he can’t write anything anymore that isn’t shitty. This book is shitty. And I think I’m ready to call Chuck Palahniuk a competent but shitty author who had two or three really good ideas once, and put them all into one book. Now he goes for shock value but he leaves us with nothing shocking or valuable.

And also, “Palahniuk” is extraordinarily difficult to type on a Dvorak keyboard. I don’t know why. Just thought it was interesting.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Started Early, Took My Dog

started-early-took-my-dogby Kate Atkinson
Reagan Arthur Books (Little, Brown) 2011

Selection method: Wanted a book with “dog” in the title.
First sentence (sort of)
: Leeds: “Motorway City of the Seventies.” A proud slogan.
Worst sentence: Ken Arkwright had seen more than most but remained avuncular and sanguine, a good copper for a green girl to be beneath the wing of.
SAT words in that sentence: avuncular, sanguine
Animals I would rather be eaten by than read this book: shark, zebra, lamprey, parrot

Other reviews: Booking Mama, The Review Broads

On the inside flap of this book is praise from a critic from Time magazine. He calls Kate Atkinson “uncategorizable”. I feel sorry for him not to have this category checkbox I have here on my WordPress site. The category is “Shitty”. It’s not “Super Shitty” or “Not Shitty” and certainly not as shitty as books by James Patterson. But it’s definitely shitty.

There are a lot of references to 1970’s British news and pop culture here. A lot. The Black and White Minstrel Show, John Poulson, Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye, Donald Neilson (“the Black Panther”, but not the cool American kind), Harold Shipman, The Dick Emery Show, Steptoe and Son, Mike Yarwood. That’s just the first two pages. I don’t know what any of those things or people are. I’m guessing a bunch of British pensioners do (in America, “retirees”). And I’m guessing minstrel1British people are actually more racist than their American counterparts. The Black and White Minstrel Show, pictured at left, ran for twenty years, ending in 1978. These people needed some fucking Sesame Street.

Getting back to the book, the first chapter opens “1975: April 9“. So all the references were not necessary. I remember 1975. I was dead.

With all these unfamiliar references, and all the cheeky Britspeak (like “PC” and “bloke” and “Jesus H. Christ” and “cheeky”) you might think it difficult for an American to decode its shittiness. Not so. A shitty book is shitty in every argot (in America, “dialect”. In Georgia and north Florida, “funny talkin'”). Kate Atkinson is crafty enough with her sentences, but a book with so many news and pop references can only appeal to one small segment of the population: racist British news junkie pensioners. In 20 years, they’ll all be dead and this book will be useless. Even if the writing were spectacular it gets completely lost in this mud of bollocks you once watched on BBC One.

My Pro Tip of the Day: if you’re going to write a period novel, keep the references to the fewest necessary to tell the story. Don’t tell us about the shows on TV unless someone is actually watching that show and then gets stabbed or has their mother kidnapped and made to watch The Dick Emery Show  while being stabbed by a pensioner in blackface. Something with stabs.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

The Lost Symbol

lost-symbolby Dan Brown
Doubleday 2009

Method of selecton: Ripped out the beating heart of a young man dressed as Tezcatlipoca in traditional Aztec ritual sacrifice, then took a stroll to the library
First sentence
: The Otis elevator climbing the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower was overflowing with tourists.
Worst sentence: To this day, this ancient battle garb was donned by modern office warriors hoping to intimidate their enemies in daily boardroom battles.
Number of Dan Brown books in the world: 200 million
Number of stacked Dan Brown books it would take to knock the International Space Station out of orbit: 7,286,400
People who could actually afford to do this: Dan Brown, Scrooge McDuck, Carlos Slim
Number of people who would enjoy this spectacle more than actually reading a Dan Brown novel: 200 million + me

Other reviews: Pajiba, Amina Black, Bookfox, All About Romance

Before I begin my review, I’d like to share a few facts about the author: Dan Brown was raised Episcopalian by a mathematician father and choir organist mother in Exeter, New Hampshire. He went to Philips Exeter Academy, then to Amherst college. He was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, played squash, sang in the Amherst glee club, and spent a year abroad in Spain. Dan Brown is the whitest man in America. Perhaps then he can be forgiven for also writing such shitty books. “Brown” is obviously a pen name.

For this entry, I did some research on prologues. Because shitty book authors exist only to write prologues. And prologues exist to make authors shitty. They are short, shitty chapters that slow us down so we can’t get to the rest of the book to find out how shitty it is. According to Wikipedia, the first prologue of the variety Dan Brown uses was written by the Greek playwright Euripides, the first shitty book author, who employed it “almost perversely, as a medium for his ironic rationalismo.” I don’t know what that means, but whoever wrote that copy is a genius and more talented than Dan Brown and his shitty prologues. And only in shitty books do people “beam”. Nobody I know has ever beamed. Nobody I know has ever described a situation to me in which someone “beamed”. If I saw someone “beam” I would call a fucking paramedic.

I did not know when I picked up this book that Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code. Not that it matters, because it turns out Dan Brown writes shitty books and shitty people pay to read shitty books and there will always be millions of shitty people who want shitty books. Books where the author uses stupid devices such as using italics so you can hear the narrator’s boring thoughts. Because the writer’s terrible writing can’t actually tell you what’s going on.

Dan Brown also wants you to know that everything in this book is really real. It says so on the first page, before the prologue, in some kind of super-duper-shitty pre-prologue I will call a “supralogue”, where he claims that

All organizations in this novel exist, including the Freemasons, the Invisible College, the Office of Security, the SMSC, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. All rituals, science, artwork, and monuments in this novel are real.

harris-tweed-jacket-lHe makes sure to use REAL things in his book so you know just how really real it really is. Things such as Otis Elevators, the Eiffel Tower, a Falcon 2000EX corporate jet (superseded by the longer-range 2000LX in 2009), the Washington Monument, Dulles International Airport, a Harris Tweed jacket (pictured left), Phillips Exeter Academy, a Lincoln Town Car, Beltway Limousine, and Windsock Drive. With so many real places and real companies and real products, it feels really real! And also like paid product positioning. If Dan Brown ISN’T being paid by at least some of these real companies to promote their real products in the first three pages, he is not only a shitty book author, but a DUMB shitty book author, because clearly all the shitty readers are dumb enough to pay him to promote someone else’s shitty products, so he should at least cash in. With all that money, he could pay for writing lessons. Shit, with that much money, he could pay to reanimate Ernest Hemingway and force him to write his next novel, Inferno, at the point of a gun that shoots diamonds.

In a 2009 interview Dan Brown told Matt Lauer that some people “get” the way he blends fact with fiction, while others “should probably just read somebody else”.

Yes. What he said.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

In Sunlight and In Shadow

insunlightandinshadowby Mark Helprin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012

Method of Selection: A gypsy gave me a shittybook divining rod. I don’t know how it works but it just works.
First Sentence: If a New York doorman is not contemplative by nature, he becomes so as he stands all day dressed like an Albanian general and doing mostly nothing.
What the Fuck Is an: Albanian general
You Mean Like: one of those really white white guys
No, That’s: an albino general
Oh: I see
Maybe He Means: Albanian generals and doormen both wear funny hats, they are both often mustachioed, they both develop syphilitic chancres from constant whoring
Who Told Me That: it was on 60 Minutes I think

Other Reviews: The Literary Outpost, Songs of Sirens, The Gilmore Guide to Books

I’m conflicted. It is clear Mark Helprin is a talented and thoughtful writer. He can put together a colorful sentence for sure. But I think this book may be shitty. It reminds me of masturbating. It feels good, and maybe for a few moments you can suspend reality and enjoy it, bearing down and stroking it hard and free and throbbing into the naked inscrutable air, until you reach the boiling knife-edge of that shattering glass avalanche, but it’s just not the real thing and never will be. Then there you are, standing alone with your pants around your ankles in the produce section next to the grapes, which are in season and very VERY ripe, and everyone is giving you that look. Except for that one confused little boy who’s never seen a man do this before, and even if he has, then not to grapes, and he has this huge grin on his face like he wants you to do that to HIM.

What I’m saying is I feel like the grapes in this scenario: violated and clumpy, but inanimate, and possibly kind of purple but also red maybe. Mark Helprin has a tendency to write in a high or aristocratic language, adding words that don’t need to be there and using long words when a short word would suffice.

  • one Harry Copeland (instead of, “Harry Copeland”)
  • as a result of this stress (instead of, “so”)
  • began to increase his velocity (instead of, “sped”)
  • which he had not the ability to (instead of, “which he couldn’t”)
  • his exactitude in summoning texture (instead of, “but, you know, whatever. Stuff.”)

Maybe some people like this pandering language. Maybe they also like the onions in the produce section (perverts), but despite what seems the beginnings of an interesting story, about a guy in New York who seems to believe he can fly, and finds ways to fake it, the writing is just too much work to get through, and then not much is happening. And there’s 701 pages of this. Plus a prologue AND an epilogue. I’m BUSY.

So it’s shitty. But I feel bad saying it because on some level this book seems to be a real accomplishment. For other people to read, not me. It’s as if Mark Helprin was a master bricklayer and went to build you a house but instead you got three perfect walls and no roof and there’s a grape rapist (a grapist) outside.


I also feel bad because Mark Helprin looks like such a NICE GUY. He even works on his own farm in Virginia. But he’s also a senior fellow at the super-hawkish glorified book club that is the conservative think-tank The Claremont Institute, so maybe I’ll try to fight him at the signing.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Mistress of the Art of Death

MotAoDpbby Ariana Franklin (really Diana Norman)
Bantam Books 2007

Method of Selection: Somebody left it behind at a cafe. Broken in. Which means they read it all the way through and abandoned it like an unwanted child.
First sentence: A screaming year.
Worst sentence: At first the scream had hope in it.
New best way to open any sentence ever: The throat that issued the scream was too small…
Alternative uses for this book: really really expensive dog food that actually kills your dog, porno set soundproofing, impenetrable wall of unread Mistress of the Art of Deaths

Other reviews: Dear Author, All About Romance, Reactions to Reading

I’m pretty sure Ariana Franklin did all her research for this book at a medieval dinner theatre. But she didn’t pay attention. The Cornish game hen and Pepsi-Cola dinner is THAT GOOD. Also, there’s evidence she may have been blazed on Windex (but not quite blazed enough), and composed her narrative by writing something and chucking it under a lawnmower. She was also raised in a box and her parents were related to one another, and were sasquatches. How else can I explain the unbroken chain of blue ribbon shittyisms in the first three pages and the clear omission of basic fact-checking?

I give her credit, though: Ariana Franklin really sets the stage. She sets the stage SO HARD. In fact it’s mostly stage. There’s grateful air, come-and-get-me-I’m-frightened screams, a fox pausing mid-trot with one paw up to judge the threat to itself, and even the grunt of a badger. The rates are uncongenial to one’s rheumatism, the exclamations of hurt are bitten-off, and despite the pace he had to go AT, dominoes still tumble into the darkness (because who doesn’t like setting up dominoes for hours and then knocking them over in total darkness?).

With so much stage, though, there’s no telling which detail I’m supposed to focus on. The king? The English church? Maybe the child that keeps screaming. No, the screaming stopped. The child is dead I think. But the animals are still eating each other even though it’s an irrelevant detail. Perhaps the focus is the old man in the huge castle. (It’s a huge castle, not tiny. Not a tiny castle. Not in this book. In this book all the castles are huge.) Also in this version of history, the king of England uses words like “ain’t”, and makes jokes about a billiards table, even though the first known billiards table was owned by King Louis XI in the 15th century and this story is set in the 12th. Billiards may not have existed in 1170, but Wikipedia existed in 2007 when this book was published. So Ariana was just lazy.

It takes a special type of talent to write shittily this creatively. And at 507 pages, this book appears imposing. But that’s only because there are less words on each page than other books. The line spacing is set to WHALE. So don’t be afraid.

Unfortunately, Diana Norman (aka Ariana Franklin) died in 2011. In her honor, I’ve started a new category: Shitty But Dead

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Instrument of Slaughter

InstrumentofSlaughterby Edward Marston (But not really. See below.)
Allison & Busby Limited 2013

Method of selection: The title. Is Instrument of Slaughter. Look at it. It actually says that. And there’s clip-art, too.
First sentence: The meeting was held in secret.
Worst sentence: The meeting was held in secret.
People who enjoy this book might also enjoy: when the tip of their penis touches the toilet water, silly hats, leprosy
Words in the publisher’s name that are obviously a diversion tactic: “Limited”. They clearly accept any manuscript, including ones written by cats. Shitty cats.

Other reviews: None. I’m the only one stupid enough to review this.

Shitty book writers always put long, boring and completely unnecessary descriptions of their main characters in the first three pages of their shitty books. They believe we don’t know what people look like. They sound like this:

Guy Dudeman was tall and thin with untamed curly blonde hair and worked in a barn with a cow named Zoe, while his partner, Ugly Manfat, was short and stout with a very small beard and blue eyes and a dick coming out of his forehead and every time he sneezed he gave himself a black eye.

Will any of these details ever be relevant to the story? Will the two be playing basketball? Will they be participating in a bag race and be out of sync? Perhaps they will be going on double dates with conjoined twins and come to blows over how high to hang the sex swing, but it turns out Manfat got another black eye over nothing because the conjoined twins are actually conjoined transvestites and don’t speak any English and Thai has no direct translation of “sex swing” anyway. Edward Marston devotes a whole paragraph this way on just the second page:

Hambridge was a big, ugly, misshapen, red-haired young man with freckled features and a look of permanent bewilderment. Alone of them, he came from a family of Quakers. Price, by contrast, was shorter, slighter, darker and of middle height. Proud of his Welsh roots, he was at once the most genial and combative member of the group. He worked as a cook for the Great Western Railway, travelling, for the most part, between Paddington and his native country.

Middle height? Do shitty writers realize when they type these things that someone will one day have to read them? Why do they insist on saying nothing instead of something? I can see how it’s weird to be proud of your Welsh roots, but the rest is just meaningless filler material.

We also learn about Ablatt, who was a “tall, slim individual with striking good looks and a confident manner”, and Leach, who was a “thin, pallid, fair-headed young man with a nervous habit of looking to left and right as he spoke”. Three pages in and I’ve already forgotten their names and what they look like, and it never mattered to begin with.

Another dead giveaway of a shitty writer is they use fake names, so that nobody can find them and beat them. “Edward Marston” is a pseudonym of Keith Miles, who has also written as “Conrad Allen” and “Martin Inigo”. But his plan didn’t work, thanks to WikiLeaks.

One last note: On the inside front flap is listed the price of this book: £19.99. For those of you who don’t know, that’s like $3,000 in American money. This book is more expensive than bladder cancer, though it’s debatable which I’d rather have.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)