Monday, July 20, 2015

The Worst Novelist in History?

I saw some commentary about bad writing on facebook this morning, and this link was below it, about “The Worst Novelist in History.” I had to read it. And I think I might just agree, although I’ve seen some horrible writing in the modern world.

The fairly short article is about Amanda McKittrick Ros, or at least that was her pen name. Her real name was Anna Margaret Ross. She was born in Northern Ireland in 1860 and died in 1939. She was a schoolteacher, and I find myself wondering what horrific effects she may have had on her students.

Here is a line from her first book, Irene Iddesleigh, which her husband paid to have published as a tenth anniversary present to her: “She tried hard to keep herself a stranger to her poor old father's slight income by the use of the finest production of steel, whose blunt edge eyed the reely covering with marked greed, and offered its sharp dart to faultless fabrics of flaxen fineness.” 


She went on to publish more books and poetry, though. Here is the Wikipedia link for her. She apparently was a bit full of herself in addition to writing prose like that wonderful bit quoted above. 

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25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, that is a really convoluted line. She probably thought it was clever.

R.T. said...

Behind almost all novelists there are editors and publishers. Perhaps we ought to blame the latter rather than the former.

What would interest me is a list of the popular, successful writers who qualify for the "worst novelist in history" award. But then we open up the can of worms about readers and their tastes. Consider, for a moment, Dan Brown and _The Da Vinci Code_. And then -- as I commit the ultimate heresy -- consider canonical authors, and I nominate Mark Twain. Hmmmm. That should be provocative enough.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, let me strive not to be so clever. :)

R. T., since her first book was self published I don't imagine there was much editing. I don't know about the later books I read the Da Vinci Code. I didn't think it was all that great but it was readable and I could understand everything he wrote, even if some was awkward. As for classic writers, I'd have to put Kafka down on my list of really bad writers.

Erik Donald France said...

"Bony supports" -- for legs. How bizarro. Was she *trying* to be funny?

Kafka might work better in the original.

How about 'Fifty Shades of . . .' ?

Elgin Bleecker said...

Thanks, Charles – I needed a good laugh.
Hey, R.T. – Twain? Really?

G. B. Miller said...

Mr. Gramlich, may I be excused for the rest of the class? My eyes and head hurts from reading and trying to comprehend that writing which was written rotten.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, admittedly, Kafka could write a reasonable sentence. I just personally think the Metamorphosis is godawful. I actually haven't read anything else by him.

Elgin, it's certainly worth one.

G. B., only if the teacher gets excused as well.

R.T. said...

Elgin, yes, I think some of his short works are fine, but Twain in my humble opinion fails as a novelist; even the canonical Huck Finn is overrated, but that's just the curmudgeonly observation of a slightly senile retired and teacher of English. Hmmmm.

R.T. said...

Oops. Omit "retired and," and give me an F for the assignment.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow, being known as the worst writer ever is harsh.

Cloudia said...

Monkey looks into a mirror and sees a gazelle!

the walking man said...

Cruel Charles, posting that paragraph was very cruel.

Charles Gramlich said...


R. T., no prob. I'm not as big of a fan of Twain's as many are myself.

Patti, yes, I'd say so

Cloudia, lol

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, that's the kind of guy I am

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

There may indeed be a reader for every writer. Maybe she found her own group in Ireland who loved everything she wrote, thanks to her husband's gift. It could be kind of romantic if thought of in that way. :)

sage said...

Twain and Kafka, two of my favorite... That sentnece would have ended my reading of her book.

I am teaching a class this summer on Roughing It and I had a student who decided it was the worst book he ever read. Part of his criticism I understood as Twain was to deliver a book of so many pages and there was so fluff in it, but I really like the first half of the book which is why I agreed to teach it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, seems like she did have folks who followed her writing. Some maybe because it was funny. It was a romantic gesture by her husband

Sage, never read "Roughing it." I like some of Twain but his folksy humor doesn't resonate well with me when he gets going. It's just right for many others.

Shay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I wonder if she was confused between writing prose and poetry!

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, could be. There are different rules there.

Oscar said...

What James Joyce and Finnegan's Wake. Never understood that one. I would have read beyond that sentence, if I even read all of it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, I've never been able to read Joyce either except for a short story or so.

Riot Kitty said...

Oh, my GOD. I have to check that out. Just so I can smack my forehead.

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jodi said...

Charles-I wouldn't have the patience for one paragraph of that baloney! There are so many better reads and writers out there waiting for me to dig in!