January 21, 2009


Best Left Unread

I've been feeling like crud for over a week now. I've had a myriad of maladies from top to tail, as my mother would have said, and I'm finally finding an even keel after choppy waters. I've found myself sleeping at odd times, prowling the house at even odder ones, and letting a bunch of different drugs work their way through my system, sometimes working magic, other times wreaking havoc.

I am a reader. I will read anything and everything, and at times like these, I find myself scraping for things to devour - stacks from the library are burned through in the wee hours, old standbys are used up and set aside for another year. And so I turn to the dirge pile - all of them boasting large round stickers declaring their marked-down value - 2.99, 3.99, 5.99 - whatever. They are the evidence of impulsively wandering the aisles of bookstores too big for their own good, a giant overpriced coffee clutched in one hand, a growing tower of questionable books in the other.

I can't help myself. I usually haunt the mark-down racks purchasing by author; if I've read something I like, I'll buy something else by the same creator, if only to measure the growth of the artist, or the truth to one-hit-wonderitis. And sometimes I simply screw up, falling prey to the lying lines on the cover - "Best read of the Year!" followed by a name I trust, or a paper I read. Telling myself you gotta kiss a lot of frogs, I stuff them on my shelf ready for weeks like the one just past.

I have a point. I have just read what may be the worst line in a book I have come across in my life. Truly. It belongs in one of those anthologies of It Was A Dark and Stormy Night. It is unreal. I read it once; I read it again; I checked my pill bottle, wondering if it was my fault; I read it again, and boggled. Someone (okay, someone named T.C. Boyle) wrote this line. And rewrote it at least three times, I'm guessing. And then an editor let it slide, and a copy editor, and T.C.'s mother or brother - they all let it go. The book sucks (Talk Talk), but read this line:

"It didn't hurt that he and Sandman had shared two bottles of the best wine on a pretty poor list in a pretty poor restaurant with the best view in the universe, because the second bottle, a Sauvignon Blanc chilled to perfection so that it went down cold enough to refresh you but not so cold that you couldn't pick up on its body and the subtle buttery oakiness of the cask it had resided in, lifted his quietly bouyant mood and made it soar."

Or maybe its just me.

6 Comments:

Anonymous jmd said...

Hope this link works - worst first lines ever. They make me giggle.

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2007.htm

January 21, 2009 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's not just you. it's stupid.

January 21, 2009 3:35 PM  
Anonymous edgaress said...

Checked my book database..found I had tried TC eight years ago. Flunked, badly. But if your bacteria mutate and re-infect, move up the alphabet and enjoy William Boyd. Maybe start with Any Human Heart. But not escapist stuff. Brit, born in Accra, ‘52. Outstanding.

January 21, 2009 4:39 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Any Human Heart - love love love it.

Will head back to his other stuff - thanks for the reminder.

January 21, 2009 5:12 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

I loved the Bulwer Lytton Dark and Stormy Night contest entries which are often compiled into hilariious books by the same title. The one I can't shake from my mind no matter how I try was the one entry in the Gothic fiction line with "her heaving breasts lept like lizards off a cliff.." I was on the floor laughing from there.

January 21, 2009 5:52 PM  
Blogger Nursedude said...

Once in a very rare while though you can actually find interesting gems in the discount piles. I'll usually try to pick up an author/genre I wouldn't normally expose myself to.

January 21, 2009 7:46 PM  

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