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'Bottles of wine, covered with dew, and otters.'
April 1, 2009 10:45 AM   Subscribe

There was no way to simply say, "I read a really bad description in this book last night." I had to scan it and share it for you to understand just how bad it truly, truly was. It is the sort of bad that causes pain and must be shared with other people so you can feel better. Part 1, Part 2. This really is prose so purple that it verges into the infra-red. Some NSFW descriptive naughtiness.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (149 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite

 
So many metaphors. So very many.
posted by juliplease at 10:50 AM on April 1, 2009


From the Amazon page for the book:

"Ron Miller is unfairly talented." -- Sir Arthur C Clarke

That is artistry, right there.
posted by maudlin at 10:51 AM on April 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh my GOD. The part that really confused me were all the images of rock and stone. Different parts of the chick's body are sandstone, or flagstone, or marble, or slate. . .is that what you dudes are into? :)

Thanks for that post. I think.
posted by Beckminster at 10:51 AM on April 1, 2009


That must be stunning, because I am stunned.
posted by RussHy at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awesome! Who among us doesn't appreciate a dew and otter covered bottle of wine? I want more! (Can someone just list them, please? Don't make me buy this book, I BEG you!)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2009


I get a kick out of how the author just casually drops the word "pubes" in there. That's, like, the shimmering glow on the waterfall cast by the flames of the candles of the icing on the cake.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


"Her brows were a raptor's sharpy, anxious wings. They were a pair of scythes."

Oh. Dear.

Um. Thanks?
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I have this saved from when I first saw it. I send it to people and I read it everytime I need to feel a little bit better about myself.
posted by redsparkler at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009


Sharp, that should've been. Not sharpy.
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009


Can't read due to being at the W in NSFW, but your post should say, "...so purple it verges into the ultraviolet." Infrared is on the other side of the spectrum, next to the red, with all other colors in between.
posted by explosion at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


This comment is a telephone, a coffee mug, an elephant. It is sand and lime. It is a field of daisies. My pubes are a field of wheat before the harvest.
posted by sanko at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2009 [36 favorites]


Her tongue was a ferret, an anemone, a fox caught in the teeth of a tiger.

Her buttocks were freshly baked loaves; they were ivory eggs, they were the eggs of the loney phoenix. They were a fist.


Also: Spikenard?!

OMG Someone stop me.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2009


MetaFilter: a sheaf of alfalfa or barley
posted by krilli at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2009


Aww, man, I was just going to post this, like, two weeks ago... And didn't... And otters.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


More proof that I am not the worst writer in the world!
posted by Mister_A at 11:04 AM on April 1, 2009


Her pubes...
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on April 1, 2009


Yeah its official, I'm a hack writer. Because I unironically love this description and I'm going to use it to model my next music review.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


His prose was expectorate, effluvia. sewage sluicing in a drain. It clotted like bilious gristle on an abattoir floor. It was diarrhea spewing forth both tepid and lumpy, ending only in cold sweat and crippling exhaustion. And a looming apprehension of fetid torrents still to come.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2009 [36 favorites]


Can't read due to being at the W in NSFW, but your post should say, "...so purple it verges into the ultraviolet." Infrared is on the other side of the spectrum, next to the red, with all other colors in between.

It goes all the way around physics, it's that purple.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Eh. I didn't think these were much worse than the inexplicably lauded "Time Traveler's Wife." But what do I know.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


small_ruminant: that's one of my favorite bits, too - how his ceaseless rambling metaphor can't get from "ferret" to "fox" without stopping at "anemone" along the way.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:06 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is my favorite review of a crappy (erotica in this case) novel. I mean who doesn't love lines like: I don’t need to pee any more. Now I just need to get laid.

The knight gives me a knowing smile, and jiggles his giant cock in my direction. “You look like a fair maiden in need of a good visit from the codpiece,” he says.

posted by nooneyouknow at 11:07 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


posted by sanko My pubes are a field of wheat before the harvest.

*Throws down spoon, shoves bowl of Cream-Of-Wheat away in disgust*

THANKS FOR RUINING BREAKFAST
posted by mattdidthat at 11:07 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Her ribs were a niche, an alcove, an apse.

The author owns a thesaurus, a book of synonyms, a compendium of words that kind of mean the same thing.
posted by scratch at 11:08 AM on April 1, 2009 [84 favorites]


"Ron Miller is unfairly talented." -- Sir Arthur C Clarke

I wonder if the publisher took some liberties from with a different, original quote:

"Ron Miller is fairly untalented." -- Sir Arthur C Clarke
posted by procrastination at 11:09 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


She grasped Spikenard's phallus with both hands, and it burnt [sic] like a bar of red hot iron: she cried out from the pain
Dude, you should have a doctor look at that.
posted by fatbird at 11:09 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


The knight gives me a knowing smile, and jiggles his giant cock in my direction. “You look like a fair maiden in need of a good visit from the codpiece,” he says.


**guffaws for the first time in appx eight months, rereads, puts head down on desk**
posted by scratch at 11:10 AM on April 1, 2009


I love that her face not only had its own fragrance, it was the fragrance of the gibbous moon. Stupid smelly moon!
posted by turaho at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Who let Stephenie Meyer out again?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:14 AM on April 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


It reads like a parody of E. R. Eddison's writing to me. (But that's perhaps giving the author too much credit.)
posted by Prospero at 11:14 AM on April 1, 2009


I do like soft, sweet cheese.
posted by The World Famous at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2009


So, um, was there any penetration or not?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2009


My head asplode.
posted by jquinby at 11:18 AM on April 1, 2009


Metafilter: Hot, careful winds.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:18 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. Stunning doesn't cut it. How was it Will Ferrell's James Lipton described the work of Alec Baldwin's Charles Nelson Reilly in that Actors Studio parody on SNL? Scrumtrulescent. Exactly.

Ron Miller, your work in Silk & Steel is truly, inexorably scrumtrulescent. It begs to be considered from odd angles, oblique perspectives, around corners, through satellite photography. It compels rereading, re-typesetting, bas relief, an Albrecht Durer carving of nothing but text. It makes me weep tears of joy like a river of azure carving away an eon's worth of stone in a delirious instant, like acid penetrating sheer metal, like a carrot thrust deeply into a bowl of onion dip and then dragged through like a scythe across gelatinous wheat.

"Her buttocks were fresh-baked loaves." Scrumtrulescence in a flawless clause, but a mere prelude to the delightfully unexpected counter-harmony of Spikenard's bald dialogue: "You are quite beautiful, Princess Bronwyn." How you tranformed yourself into a fly on the wall in the dales of olden tymes I'll never know, Ron Miller, but your ear for the natural speech of the faerie kings is without parallel. "You have gotten a power"? What else could a mythic hero say to the faerie queen whose voice "cut through the atmosphere like a white-hot spike thrust into a crystal sphere"? And Thud Mollockle? Thud Mollockle is simply the most scrumtrulescent name in all of fiction, all of time, from the cosmos to the earth's molten core.

Scrumtrulescent. I am moved beyond words but must repeat this one just one more time: Scrumtrulescent.
posted by gompa at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


So, um, was there any penetration or not?

Well, "The bristly mound of her pubes buzzed and hummed like a shaken hornets' nest", so I kind of hope not.
posted by nicwolff at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


1) Her legs were:
A) quills
B) bundles of wicker
C) candelabra
D) All of the above

2) the muscles were:
A) summer lightning that flickered like a passing thought
B) captured eels
C)a cable on a windlass
D) None of the above

3)Her thighs were:
A) geese
B) pythons
C) schooners
D) cypress
E) banyan
F) a forge
G) shears
H)sandstone
I) the sandstone buttresses of a cathedral
J) silk
K) cobwebs
L) Parts of A, some of C, a little B with some E mixed in and a pinch of J
M) All of the above
posted by Floydd at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2009 [26 favorites]


(Wow, and the original has "shaken hornet's nest", because each shaken hornet has its own nest in the land of faerie.)
posted by nicwolff at 11:22 AM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's like the writer had a stroke. "I felt lust & fear deep within my scrotums & floople wankle pie."
posted by Pronoiac at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's better than Eragon.
posted by stavrogin at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


My spine actually IS a snake though.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are we sure this wasn't written by a machine?
posted by chairface at 11:26 AM on April 1, 2009


That's why you always win the limbo contest, innit Artw?
posted by Mister_A at 11:28 AM on April 1, 2009


I was going to say that while it wasn't great it wasn't that bad, but then I got to the second scan and read "[...] and her heart raced in accompaniment like the drumroll preceeding a blindfolded circus high diver." Yeah, that certainly sets the mood.

Then: "The bristly mound of her pubes buzzed and hummed like a shaken hornet's nest." Bzzz, bzzz.

Also, the word sardonic may not mean what the author thinks it does.
posted by JHarris at 11:29 AM on April 1, 2009


I thought it meant "like Elric".
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on April 1, 2009


"Her breasts were... soft, sweet cheese."

That is my dream woman, right there.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


*queeb*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh come on, who hasn't been horny for a hornets' nest?
posted by Pronoiac at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2009


Does it say turgid in there anywhere? Also, has this guy ever seen or touched an actual woman's ass?
posted by Mister_A at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2009


I don't know any way to say this, other than, "If her pussy makes a buzzing noise, she is probably a robot."
posted by Mister_A at 11:36 AM on April 1, 2009 [25 favorites]


but your post should say, "...so purple it verges into the ultraviolet." Infrared is on the other side of the spectrum, next to the red, with all other colors in between.

Yeah, I thought that too, but after I read the excerpt it seemed somehow more appropriate to fumble the reference.

Also, it's the 21st century. I thought all the hot chicks harvested their wheat.
posted by Mcable at 11:37 AM on April 1, 2009


Does it say turgid in there anywhere? Also, has this guy ever seen or touched an actual woman's ass?

Would you put your hand anywhere near a buzzing hornets' nest?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2009


The last sentence of the chapter reveals the sudden appearance of `the abundant, boundless, heaven-crowned figure of Thud Mollockle'. Please, please let every chapter end with Thud Mollockle's unexpected arrival.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is exactly why I've never become a published author.

It obviously isn't lack of talent: I lack talent, sure, but that doesn't stop other bad writers from getting published. I simply do not have the balls to write something like this. I mean, I COULD. But I then could not bear to save the file. I'd delete it and try again. To try to write something, you know, GOOD. I couldn't put my name on a piece of prose like that. I couldn't even use a pseudonym, because I'd STILL KNOW THAT I WROTE IT.

It takes massive, massive balls to write something that bad. I wish I had the courage. Or the lack of discernment. Whatever.

It's admirable in its awfulness.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:44 AM on April 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


I never knew there were erotic fantasy madlibs.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Noisome.
posted by Mister_A at 11:47 AM on April 1, 2009


Her breasts were... soft, sweet cheese.

Tetilla, anyone?

The video that shows all the metaphors with a reading of the text is pretty awesome.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:48 AM on April 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


It doesn't take a whole lot of otters to cover a bottle of wine, unless it's a really big bottle.

And I thought it stopped at Rehoboam...
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on April 1, 2009


Oh, God, Knight Moves! I tried to read that page to my husband, but ended up laughing so hard I couldn't talk. "Queeb" is our new favorite word.

I actually think that one was written by a machine, because the author certainly has no idea what human bodies are actually like -- the spinning around on his, er, codpiece like a top? How the hell would that work?!
posted by sarcasticah at 11:55 AM on April 1, 2009


WELL THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

I just woke up, figured I'd pop on over to Metafilter and see what you lot were up to. How can I resist truly horrible book excerpts? So I click.

AND NOW I'M GOING TO DIE. I'm reasonably certain that reading this has just doomed me. Not a good ol' excitement filled The Ring dooming, either. This is goddamned literary ebola right here.

Then again, I'm definitely sending it to everyone I know. So, I guess, upside.
posted by Stunt at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


but your post should say, "...so purple it verges into the ultraviolet." Infrared is on the other side of the spectrum, next to the red, with all other colors in between.

You noticed I did not specify a direction... yes, it's so bad it merges with the infrared FROM THE OTHER SIDE!!!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2009


My brain hurts!
posted by tommasz at 12:00 PM on April 1, 2009


her pubes was a field of wheat after the harvest

i am weeping or having a stroke or both
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:00 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa! So bad it wraps around! Amazing!
posted by Mister_A at 12:01 PM on April 1, 2009


I'm here.

- Thud Mollockle
posted by maudlin at 12:01 PM on April 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is why you don't try to write erotica while candy-flipping.
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh and I was glad to see it features my favorite Lovecraftian word, 'gibbous' ... though I doubt even the Master thought to use it in the phrase: 'Her face had the fragrance of a gibbous moon'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:03 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It obviously isn't lack of talent
It's anti-talent. The author must at all costs be kept away from anyone good at writing for fear that annihilation would take place. He has clearly been reading Lionel Fanthorpe books for hints and tips and Thog's Masterclass for advanced techniques.
posted by Electric Dragon at 12:03 PM on April 1, 2009


This dude's Mother's Day cards must have been awesome.
posted by Shepherd at 12:05 PM on April 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


If anyone cares for the Cliff's note version:

"She was hot."

This is why I like Hemingway. He wrote more, using less words, trusting that the reader would have enough imagination to see it without a guided tour.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:09 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


*looks up definition of "candy-flipping", suddenly feels ancient*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:12 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw this when it was first making the rounds of LJ...somehwere, someone actually tried to DRAW a depiction of the character being described, only taking all the metaphors literally. I wish to God I could find that picture and link, because it was a thing of beauty.

That smelled like the moon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


According to astronauts the moon smells like spent gunpowder.
posted by Artw at 12:19 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: her hair -

"It was the color of a leopard's tongue."

"It was the color of a leopard's tongue."

"It was the color of a leopard's tongue."

I... I think that may be the most perfect sentence ever crafted. I had to paste it three times, just so when I looked at the page I could read it more than once SIMULTANEOUSLY.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:20 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear Mother -

Your womb was like a greenhouse, a metal factory, the cement enclosure of a zoo giraffe at sundown. I write to you on this day because your parenting smells like lemon zest from afar. Like mothballs and h'ors-doeuvres. I can no longer function.

Your shadow over my life is like the waxen beat of a bat wing, of a thousand bats. Of a tornado made from discarded shells, raining down upon my career and personal relationships. I would taunt you, Mother Mollickle, but your lips are like obsidian, like secrets from the tomb, like a used car that remains on the lot.

Yours in lethargic simile,

Thaddeus
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:22 PM on April 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


Brooklyn Version, ca. 1978:

Her tits were like wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, and dey were big enough to stop up a fuckin' toilet. Her ass, Madonna mia, it was firm and sweet, like capicola.
posted by Mister_A at 12:24 PM on April 1, 2009 [24 favorites]


The Eye of Argon, defeated.
posted by Artw at 12:24 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. I believe we have found our generation's The Eye Of Argon.
posted by The otter lady at 12:24 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw, you are like a striking snake, a speeding bullet, a smell of lightning, a really, really fast thing that goes fast.
posted by The otter lady at 12:26 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


ARGON CRASH!
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


How does it end? I orgasmed after the fifth paragraph and kind of lost interest.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:27 PM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am all of those things. I also have some burning like a red hot bar of iron, and so really need to go to a doctor.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on April 1, 2009


As a writer myself, I'm having the same emotion that Bill Hicks talked about having when he learned that while Hicks couldn't find a woman, Ted Bundy was receiving marriage proposals in jail.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:28 PM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, I think it's good.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 12:31 PM on April 1, 2009


How does it end? I orgasmed after the fifth paragraph and kind of lost interest.

Don't ask me... toward the end, my brain just refused to maintain traction.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:32 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, that's really beyond bad. I mean that quite literally. That's so weird, so outre, that it demands some sort of explanation other than "oh, this guy was a crappy writer." That's not how crappy writers write. This is freakazoid surrealism, not somebody struggling for "sexy" and hitting "laughable." Surely there must be some explanation for this weird word soup. In the previous chapter is the hero traveling to "Makesnosenseland" or is the book imagined as being written in some weird gnome language and then translated super-literally back into English? Who on earth would read this if they just wanted a racy fantasy novel, after all? What spotty 15 year old is going to be spanking the monkey to the thought of otters on winebottles and the smell of a gibbous moon?

Anyone out there actually read this and have some explanation for it?
posted by yoink at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2009


Metafilter: It has the fragrance of a gibbous moon. And otters.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:58 PM on April 1, 2009


Possibly it’s an attempt to overwhelm the limbic system and implant subliminal code messages?
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The whole thing reads like what might happen if Walt Whitman had been a crack junkie and Harlequin Books paid him enough for a week's binge to write a romance novel.
posted by spicynuts at 1:02 PM on April 1, 2009


Reminds me of the classic Song of the Sorcelator.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:09 PM on April 1, 2009


"The Dark" by James Herbert has a scene in which the joyous act of intercourse is described as "stuffing dough into a purse".
posted by longbaugh at 1:12 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


out of context, i think this is kind of good. i think in the context of a sword/sorcery novel it's probably bad though, i don't know... but otters?
posted by geos at 1:16 PM on April 1, 2009


Did anyone else think of the Song of Solomon while reading this?

From Chapter 7:

1 How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
2 Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.
3 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
4 Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.
5 Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.
6 How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
7 This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
8 I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples
posted by joaquim at 1:19 PM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


stuffing dough into a purse

"Is it in yet?"

"I don't know. Can you feel the zipper?"
posted by yoink at 1:19 PM on April 1, 2009


Feh, this place is such a codpiecezone.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:26 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


stuffing dough into a purse

I think you're gonna want to knead that longer, build up the gluten
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:32 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


While you're all fixated on otters...I can't over the description of her nipples as "savory morels." At first I thought he meant "morsels" which is kind of cute, but then I realized he meant mushrooms. If her nipples look like this ...just ew.
posted by Biblio at 1:34 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


it was the fragrance of the gibbous moon...

So it smelled like gibbons? Well that sounds unpleasant.
posted by Evangeline at 1:37 PM on April 1, 2009


i wish i could favorite gompa's comment twice.
posted by empath at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2009


You know, I was just ranting about bad sex scenes in speculative fiction, mostly inspired by having just finished the first chapter of Charles Stross's Accelerando, but there, I can't tell if it's a terribly awkward and unsexy depiction of an intense femdom scene between two characters who have little emotional depth beyond the political ideologies they represent, a hamfisted parable that Anarcho-Libertarianism gets fucked when it jumps into bed with 20th-century Bureaucratic Liberalism, or just a big joke that went over my head(*). Thankfully, it gets better, although it probably isn't my kind of sci fi.

But then again, I felt the same way about Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, which would have been a great little short story had an editor been smart enough to cut the extended screed regarding communal bandwidth.

The linked text could be redeemed if the rest of the work was both incredibly silly and witty.

(*) It wouldn't be the first time.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:00 PM on April 1, 2009


yoink, I haven't read the book, but it sounds like a parody of "The Song of Songs," to me.

My comment above was tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely: this isn't good, of course, but not for the reasons everyone seems to think. If it's meant seriously, it betrays a lack of editing as opposed to a lack of skill. M.C. Lo-Carb!, you're not insane--these pages could easily be edited down to a few paragraphs that are indistinguishable from descriptive writing that is routinely and deservedly praised. Taken by themselves, similes that compare her shoulders to "windows covered with steam" or her neck to "the foam that curls from the prow of a ship" are objectively good; even a factually incorrect line that compares the color of her hair to the color of a leopard's tongue could work if the author appeared complicit, and would be perfectly at home in a postmodernist poem. "Her spine was a snake," is a reasonably apt metaphor, but one that I've read before; however, "Her spine was a snake. It was the track of a snake," reupholsters a stale image and turns it into something fresh and startling. But I don't think these pages, as they stand, are meant seriously. Quantity is the problem here, not quality, and the quoted paragraphs are so extreme in their excess that I suspect this is either specifically parodic or that the author was simply having fun. I think we should consider the possibility that he knew what he was doing.

Now then. To cleanse your offended palates, I will leave you with a few paragraphs from The Last Unicorn:

The unicorn did not want to look into the web again. She glanced at the cage closest to her own, and suddenly felt the breath in her body turning to cold iron. There sat on an oaken perch a creature with the body of a great bronze bird and a hag's face, clenched and deadly as the talons that gripped the wood. She had the shaggy round ears of a bear; but down her scaly shoulders, mingling with the bright knives of her plumage, there fell hair the color of moonlight, thick and youthful around the hating human face. She glittered, but to look at her was to feel the light going out of the sky. Catching sight of the unicorn, she made a queer sound like a hiss and a chuckle together.

Alone in the moonlight, the old woman glided from cage to cage, rattling locks and prodding her enchantments as a housewife squeezes melons in the market. When she came to the harpy's cage the monster made a sound as shrill as a spear, and spread the horrid glory of its wings. For a moment it seemed to the unicorn that the bars of the cage began to wriggle and run like rain, but Mommy Fortuna crackled her twiggy fingers and the bars were iron again, and the harpy sank down on its perch, waiting.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 2:04 PM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's more bad sex to come in Accelerando, KirkJobSluder, but it's still an entertaining read overall.
posted by Mister_A at 2:04 PM on April 1, 2009


I saw this when it was first making the rounds of LJ...somehwere, someone actually tried to DRAW a depiction of the character being described, only taking all the metaphors literally. I wish to God I could find that picture and link, because it was a thing of beauty.

That smelled like the moon.


I smell a new Metafilter contest! Surely we have people here who can draw, if that Broken Telephone experiment is any indication.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:15 PM on April 1, 2009


Mister_A: Oh dear.

Powerful Religious Baby: To be honest, my gut reaction is that it's parody.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:17 PM on April 1, 2009


Well hello. Who is that sexeh layday?
posted by dgaicun at 2:20 PM on April 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


God damn, dgaicun, you can draw pretty fast! Now do Bill Cosby, made entirely of mini-puddings.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:21 PM on April 1, 2009


I saw this when it was first making the rounds of LJ...somehwere, someone actually tried to DRAW a depiction of the character being described, only taking all the metaphors literally. I wish to God I could find that picture and link, because it was a thing of beauty.- -EmpressCallipygos

here you go...

Stunning, by the way. I can't even imagine trying to be clever enough to mock a passage so perfect.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 2:23 PM on April 1, 2009


On preview, beaten by dgaicun, dangit.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 2:24 PM on April 1, 2009


That drawing is not safe for workplaces…

…where laughter is forbidden.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Our Lady of Metaphors

aka

Lady Very Purple

i lost it at the eyes: They were antique armor and the tears of dragons.

oh, and what is the sex of the rain of forests?
posted by liza at 2:36 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


AUGH! should have hit preview!
posted by liza at 2:37 PM on April 1, 2009


This made me very happy. Thank you.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2009


I came... many many times.
posted by Elmore at 2:51 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Her breasts quivered like a filthy pigeon shaking rain from its feathers just before being hit by a car, and he drank in their bosomliness like a digestive medicine, felt their scent and texture course through the gullet of his lust and stimulate the villi of the lower intestine of his...lust. The villi and microvilli of his lust, pulsing and throbbing as they absorbed the nutrients of the sight of her two pert nipples like boiled red sweets spat out onto the top of two cooling piles of mashed potatoes, and he traced his eyes down the peninsula of her body, and the way she was positioned she reminded him of a freshly-vomited hairball, right there on his pillow, of all places, fucking cat, her warmth pulsating upwards, his eyes trickling down between her legs to the thing that was there, his lustful intestines pulsating still harder, the sight of her moist womanhood like a daily recommended serving of lactobacillus casei shirota strain, to maintain the gut flora of his passion, but without the same texture or flavour, which would suggest a yeast infection. He mounted her in due course, the way a person might hang a framed painting they didn’t particularly like and wanted to fall so they’d have to put up a different one. Later he felt ashamed for not loving her the way she loved him, but not for long, because the FedEx guy had arrived! Ooh! New iPod!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:16 PM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I came... many many times.

Elmore came, he orgasmed, he shot undulating rivers of semen outward, semen like a mother's first milk secreted for a newborn infant, semen like rays of morning sunshine, like the pale sugared frosting gilding a gas-station donut under the emerald glare of the fluorescent lights. His sperm were tadpoles, they were frolicking otters, they were salmon swimming upstream to spawn before dying under the amber glow of an Alaskan moon. It had the fragrance of a gibbous moon.
posted by bookish at 3:30 PM on April 1, 2009


i think i just threw up through my nose a little
posted by lazaruslong at 3:33 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, is there a non-LJ link to these scans? Because I can't check that site at work but I'd sure love to read this awesome-sounding awfulness.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:37 PM on April 1, 2009


This prose is a telephone pole, a furnace, a puddle of mud, a Cessna airplane, an onion.

Or, simply put, the prose version of Vogon poetry.
posted by _dario at 4:25 PM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Powerful Religious Baby, I see what you're saying, but no. As writers, our first and foremost editor is ourselves. This is what is meant by "writers make choices." The Hemingway praise above is spot-on not just because Hemingway wrote unadorned prose but because he knew just which way to say something in order to evoke exactly the right image. He was ruthless with himself ("The first draft of anything is shit") and was brilliant as a result.

Where a good writer would think of a thousand different ways to say something, and then pick the right one, Miller picks all of them. He doesn't make any choices, and none of the things he writes are actually usefully evocative. I know less about what he's describing after reading it than I do when I start. There is no amount of editing that could make this good. As it is, I wouldn't touch a thing because the only virtue in it is in its comedy.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:25 PM on April 1, 2009


I only read Part 1, then I couldn't take it any longer. That was horrible like a massive monsoon swooping down upon some small nondescript village, bringing about the violent death of everyone in an eight mile radius. It was horrible like a forgotten dead pigeon, left for weeks to rot on someone's terrace, like the smell of the gibbous moon after it has eaten a large bowl of chili, like..... *head explodes*
posted by edupoet81 at 4:32 PM on April 1, 2009


This can't truly be appreciated until you've texted passages to friends with no explanation.
Comedy gold.
posted by Mamapotomus at 4:48 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Where a good writer would think of a thousand different ways to say something, and then pick the right one, Miller picks all of them. He doesn't make any choices, and none of the things he writes are actually usefully evocative.

Could be worse: he could be Thomas Friedman.
Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I’ll give you an example, drawn at random from The World is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here’s what he says:
I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins.
Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one.Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It’s not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It’s that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it’s absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that’s guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.
posted by maudlin at 4:50 PM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Navelgazer, I don't think Hemingway is a useful yardstick here; if you're a Hemingway acolyte, you're unlikely to prize florid description even in moderation, let alone an extended riff like this. D.H. Lawrence or Whitman might provide a better measure. I disagree absolutely that "there's no amount of editing that could make this good." These pages are packed with striking and unusual imagery. Editing them down wouldn't be difficult whatsoever. That isn't true, for instance, of something like "The Eye of Argon." The author of "The Eye of Argon" lacked an ear for music and imagery; Ron Miller has, if anything, too much of one.

The fact remains: most bad writing doesn't sound like a parody of bad writing; it just sounds like bad writing. Something else is happening here.

This interview is illuminating in that respect. The author states that the female protagonist of another novel is based on a character in Orlando Furioso. He's hardly an illiterate--I wouldn't put it past such a man to stick a flamboyant spinoff of "The Song of Songs" in the middle of a fantasy novel.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 5:22 PM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is, truly, a level of genius in raising the blazon to such a demented height.

Ah the lonely dance of the pearl-grey shark! It's not prose... it's like frozen music!
posted by jokeefe at 5:34 PM on April 1, 2009


Taken by themselves, similes that compare her shoulders to "windows covered with steam" or her neck to "the foam that curls from the prow of a ship" are objectively good

really??
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:19 PM on April 1, 2009


Yeah, I can imagine Michael Moorcock writing this.

This isn't unconscious badness, this is the writer trying to do something deliberately.

Having said that, shorn of context, it is pretty hilarious.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:38 PM on April 1, 2009


"Bag of sand? What are you talking about, have you ever felt a breast before man?"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:02 PM on April 1, 2009


The last sentence of the chapter reveals the sudden appearance of 'the abundant, boundless, heaven-crowned figure of Thud Mollockle'.

I admit that I am often guilty of going purple, but I have to admit that I freakin' love that fragment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:05 PM on April 1, 2009


The thread on Making Light about these scans has comments from some people familiar with the author's other work, and the general feeling is that these passages were deliberately done over-the-top (and that Arthur Clarke's quote was likely repurposed from a description of the author's work in the visual arts).
posted by zhwj at 7:12 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


From zhwj's link:

Though "The universe had shrunk until it contained herself alone; then it began to contract further still...[her] eyes vanished like soap bubbles, pop, pop..." is in the running.
Pages 130-132 in the Ace edition, for those of you playing along at home.


Just to clarify: T"the Ace Edition?"

ARE THERE MULTIPLE EDITIONS?!
posted by small_ruminant at 7:54 PM on April 1, 2009


"...so purple it verges into the ultraviolet." Infrared is on the other side of the spectrum, next to the red, with all other colors in between.


You won't find purple at either end of the spectrum, because it doesn't exist.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:00 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Last week, I watched a friend do a dramatic reading from his iPhone in a bar. It's so much worse aloud. Also, I had never seen anyone do a spit-take in real life before. Now I have seen two.
posted by honeydew at 8:19 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What does a gibbous moon smell like? Better than a steaming pile of words, I suppose...
posted by ronin21 at 9:34 PM on April 1, 2009


Okay, color me confused. Because I have actually read this book (long, long ago, I guess in the first Ace edition) and THIS IS NOT IN THERE AT ALL. So I'm thinking the author did this later, for a new edition, as some kind of a crazy joke.

Seriously. I have to go dig out my copy, if I still have it, and make sure that my brain still works, because I am pretty damn sure that I would remember this if I had ever read it before.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:40 PM on April 1, 2009


I like the writing, because of the cadence, and the run amok imagery, but, only for two pages worth. I think it is a case of physio-visual synesthesia. Well, or maybe it is a shopping spree for just the right stimulus 'O the day, and he is running through every thought he ever entertained about a woman before it became OK to just lust for them.

What I love, however, is the Metafilter commentary. I have just laughed my head off, for the entire read, you people are brilliant.
posted by Oyéah at 9:42 PM on April 1, 2009


This made my day. Fantastic imagery.
posted by flippant at 2:00 AM on April 2, 2009


Anyone out there actually read this and have some explanation for it?

I suspect that it was meant to convey the faerie king's own mind, and how he would describe things. That it was meant to be weird and disjointed and overly descriptive to reflect the alien-ness of the faerie mind. I get this suspicion from the way he transitions from straight-up description to quotation (the faerie king saying "Your eyes are the sound of rain.")

On the other hand, he has characters named "Spikenard" and "Thud Mollockle," so he might simply be a bad writer.

Or both.
posted by moonbiter at 3:30 AM on April 2, 2009


Pshaw! Thud Mollockle is downright Slothropian in its cudgel-like excellence.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:10 AM on April 2, 2009


How long before someone starts posting as Thud Mollockle? I'm tempted.
posted by diogenes at 5:47 AM on April 2, 2009


I learned something about purple, so thanks!

it was meant to be weird and disjointed and overly descriptive to reflect the alien-ness of the faerie mind.

Sounds like a reasonable explanation. Not sure if it works as a literary device here however.
posted by asok at 8:00 AM on April 2, 2009


Maybe a bit late but I couldn't stop myself from making a powerpoint out of this: What Spikenard Saw
posted by greensweater at 10:06 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, color me confused. Because I have actually read this book (long, long ago, I guess in the first Ace edition) and THIS IS NOT IN THERE AT ALL.

Ha! All this is an elaborate joke? I have to say that this reads more like a spoof than like anything anyone would ever actually publish. But the author's a real person, so it seems like a pretty nasty attack on a minor writer if it is a spoof.

I continue confused by the whole thing. I would like to hear if you do find your copy of the book, though, and if this passage is indeed not to be found (but could you possibly read this and forget it?).
posted by yoink at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2009


Maybe a bit late but I couldn't stop myself from making a powerpoint out of this: What Spikenard Saw

Your hosting company hasn't seemed to have finished scanning that one for malware yet...
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2009


Well ain't that a kick in the nutsack, a tremulous nutsack of mhyrr and cardamom.
posted by greensweater at 11:00 AM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


If Bronwyn's cloak is transparent, why does she need to slip it from her shoulders in the first place? Probably warmer with it on; I imagine the scent of fresh snow is rather chilly.
posted by coppermoss at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2009


I knew this reminded me of something:

Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it I
wiped my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they scratched and
exulcerated all my perinee. Of this I recovered the next morning
thereafter, by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most
excellent perfume and scent of the Arabian Benin. After that I wiped me
with sage, with fennel, with anet, with marjoram, with roses, with
gourd-leaves, with beets, with colewort, with leaves of the vine-tree,
with mallows, wool-blade, which is a tail-scarlet, with lettuce, and
with spinach leaves. All this did very great good to my leg. Then with
mercury, with parsley, with nettles, with comfrey, but that gave me the
bloody flux of Lombardy, which I healed by wiping me with my braguette.
Then I wiped my tail in the sheets, in the coverlet, in the curtains,
with a cushion, with arras hangings, with a green carpet, with a
table-cloth, with a napkin, with a handkerchief, with a combing-cloth;
in all which I found more pleasure than do the mangy dogs when you rub
them. Yea, but, said Grangousier, which torchecul did you find to be the
best? I was coming to it, said Gargantua, and by-and-by shall you hear
the tu autem, and know the whole mystery and knot of the matter. I wiped
myself with hay, with straw, with thatch-rushes, with flax, with wool,
with paper, but,

Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:51 AM on April 2, 2009


Well, her breasts may have been citrus, soapstone, bright cumulus and the smooth fingertips of Musrum, but her vagin was like sleeve of wizard.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:41 PM on April 2, 2009


This is that thing that Douglas Adams said was worse than vogon poetry but I currently happen to forget.
posted by tehloki at 3:52 AM on April 3, 2009


When I was a younger writer I would happily try to pack as many words into a sentence as I could. Indeed some of my sentences were the literary equivalents of clown cars.
posted by Artw at 9:15 AM on April 3, 2009


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