Bad Writing, Fun Reading

drivel book
Imagine my surprise when I found two of my all-time favorite writers included in a collection of bad writing.
mary roach
Mary Roach, best-selling author of science for public consumption, presents a facsimile of an early Pet Tips column from the San Francisco Examiner. The opening line is “Why not guppies?” and the closing begins with, “Let’s hear it for guppies!” And in between there are actually interesting facts about guppy gestation, birth, and cannibalism—totally overwritten.
amy tan
Ami Tan’s contribution is a 10-line poem titled “A Juggler Named Jake.”  The first stanza lines end with Jake, fake, air, pair, and break. The second stanza endings are Hoodit, to do it, plates, break, and glue it.


This book works on so many levels! First, it reminds the rest of us that once upon a time, occasionally, even the best writers suck—which can be very good for morale!


Then, too, reading bad writing and knowing why it is bad is good for one’s self-esteem.


Finally, it’s full of bite-size reads. With 51 contributors and fewer than 200 pp of text, including photos and section breaks, each entry can be read in a flash.


The pieces are grouped by topic: Totally Professional, Bad Romance, Ill-Advised Confessions, Oddities, Dark Matter, and Terrible Angst—all so bad they’re good!