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Grammar+Style Police Goes Vampire
January 14, 2011 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Edward and Bella disemboweld. Style purists are pretty tedious, but so can be Bella's conversation.

"Is it really time for this?" Bella demanded [or whatever]. Well, yes, it is: behold some intense, semi-systematized snark about the flaws of a bunch of books. [Large archives for self-exploration; the project has been up and running since July 2010]
posted by Namlit (61 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
shitty writer writes shitty?
posted by nathancaswell at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was hoping it would do what it said on the tin.
posted by clarknova at 2:08 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


"s t rlly tm fr ths?" Bll dmndd.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, disemboweld. Should have included that one, my excuses.
posted by Namlit at 2:12 PM on January 14, 2011


add "e"
posted by Namlit at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2011


Categorization of the technical flaws of Twilight and its unfortunate descendants are somewhat akin to a biologist landing in an alien jungle; one hardly knows where to begin ... he said verbily
posted by adipocere at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


My daughter was about 10, I think, when she read all the Twilight books and raved about them. I picked up the first one and couldn't get through the first few pages without snorting in disgust. I read mostly for light entertainment (I have Jackie Collins on my bookshelf - but no Dan Brown), but STILL couldn't stomach the tripe that is Twilight.

That said, I guided her towards what I thought were much better writers and books. She's just called me from her holiday with her grandparents to tell me she's bought "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". She's 12.

I fear I have created a monster.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:17 PM on January 14, 2011 [26 favorites]


I don't mind crappy writing. Then again, I think I read most of the Sweet Valley High series when I spent summers with my American cousins as a teenager. I wonder why I don't care about the writing in anything I read. I tend to not notice at all.

I guess when writers write, they generally want to write something well, but I wonder how well good writing actually sells. I know if it's depressing or gloomy, I probably wouldn't read it, and I imagine a writer might write pretty gloomy stuff especially if there's no big payout at the end.

I didn't really notice it while I read Twilight, actually. I read Twilight because it was popular and I didn't want to miss the phenomenon like I missed out on Harry Potter. I didn't wish it to be written differently and I didn't notice that it is bad.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's good for me that crappy writing sells so well. The idea that, even I, could make millions selling a crappily written book that could be optioned into a wildly popular movie. Well, it gives me hope! This is a great country.
posted by anniecat at 2:19 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"s t rlly tm fr ths?" Bll dmndd.

Disemvoweld?
posted by etc. at 2:20 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"s t rlly tm fr ths?" Bll dmndd.

"N, t's nt," sd Skk Stckhs. "W'r tlkng bt th Mrmn vmpr bks, nt th sx knd."
posted by Greg Nog at 2:25 PM on January 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Twilight isn't very good but it isn't the worst thing I've ever read either. It's just ok. It's like cardboard-tasting pizza when you are on a long road trip. It's not very tasty and probably not good for you, but you're hungry and just want something to eat.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


How tedious. As if people weren't already ignoring volumes and volumes of analysis of much better works of fiction.
posted by dubitable at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, I guided her towards what I thought were much better writers and books. She's just called me from her holiday with her grandparents to tell me she's bought "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". She's 12.

Hey, I read that and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test about the same age, and I turned out just fine!

*flails arms overhead waving off imaginary bats*
posted by loquacious at 2:29 PM on January 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


I used to like to watch movies and read books on the pure pop culture value that it possesses. This means that I would watch a TV show -- say, Friends -- or read a book -- like The DaVinci Code -- just to see what the big deal was about, and maybe to get a better idea of why in the world something is popular in our culture.

Reading the first Twilight was the end of it, though. The writing was so horrible (worse than, say, the Southern Vampire Chronicles) that I realized that spending my time on the hobby of pursuing pop culture for the sake of pursuing pop culture was just a shitty, time wasting hobby. To use a Mad Magazine word, Twilight was pure drek; the excerpts from this blog show how crappy it really is.

Since then, pop culture has begun to somewhat slip from my grasp. But, I don't feel like anything is missing. So, thank you for that, Stephanie Meyer.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:29 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


nathancaswell: "shitty writer writes shitty?"

For God's SAKE: shittily.

* wave arms, brandishes rake *
posted by boo_radley at 2:35 PM on January 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


I read Twilight because it was popular and I didn't want to miss the phenomenon like I missed out on Harry Potter.

All the Harry Potter novels are still in print and can be found at both new and used bookstores pretty easily.

Not defending Rowling's writing style here, but certainly there's a sense of wordplay and fun in those books which I'm sure transcend anything in the Twilight canon.
posted by hippybear at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


*flails arms overhead waving off imaginary bats*

If you know they're imaginary, you're doing it wrong, dude.
posted by The World Famous at 2:37 PM on January 14, 2011


of couse he knows they're imaginary, the elephant told him.
posted by boo_radley at 2:38 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


All the Harry Potter novels are still in print and can be found at both new and used bookstores pretty easily.

Well, obviously. What I'm saying it, I missed out on that time that everyone was reading it because it was this new thing that everyone was doing. I could read that stuff in fifty years, but it's fun to read something when it's gotten massively popular. It's no fun starting from book one when everyone else is on book three hundred. Get it?
posted by anniecat at 2:40 PM on January 14, 2011


The occasional comma splice or sentence fragment in service of the narrative voice is, I think, so much a convention of the commercial YA novel that you can't lay all the blame at Meyer's feet (I'm sure you could find as much in my writing that's mockable).

That said, if you're writing a series of over a thousand pages, you sure do need an editor to keep track of your writer-tics and keep the on a leash.
posted by Jeanne at 2:43 PM on January 14, 2011


I'm going to ruin it for you, anniecat. "Rosebud" is... Dumbledore!
posted by Mister_A at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2011


Like, seriously, can you name a commercial novel where no sentence ever starts with a conjunction?
posted by Jeanne at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2011


It's like the 'two cameras and a couch' bits from the end of the Revenge of the Sith review. You know it sucks, but when you see why neatly set out for you, it's instant vindication. I'm not just old and crotchety. It really is shit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's no fun starting from book one when everyone else is on book three hundred. Get it?

I do. I have a bad attitude toward immensely popular books, and often have to wait a few years until the furor has died down to be able to enjoy them. I finally read the Harry Potter books a few years ago, and I did enjoy them, and now my oldest son is enjoying them, and I kind of feel bad that we missed out on the Amazon pre-orders and the midnight book release parties and all of that.
posted by not that girl at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2011


It's no fun starting from book one when everyone else is on book three hundred. Get it?

Um... not really. Otherwise, how could you ever visit Dickens or the Sherlock Holmes novels without feeling you've missed out?

Quality books are quality books, regardless of the fad being passed or not. More often than not, I find that reading with the fads only leads to digestion of lesser quality material simply because it's popular, while anything still in print once the fad has decidedly passed... that's worth seeking out.

YMMV.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Not defending Rowling's writing style here, but certainly there's a sense of wordplay and fun in those books which I'm sure transcend anything in the Twilight canon.

Sorry, it doesn't appeal to me like love stories that aren't VC Andrews (because that stuff grosses me out to no end). I love love stories. Big, crazy, passionate love stories. Nothing to me could be more fun to read about than two attractive people in love (again, no VC Andrews, ew they are gross), and one of them is extremely rich and extremely smart and extremely handsome (though we never really hear a good description of it, but I read the book after seeing the movie) and extremely devoted? I was bored by the action scenes. I enjoyed how money was tight for Bella until she married into Edward's family. When Alice disappeared, I was wondering if this would put a huge dent in the family's finances. But then, they've been alive forever so I bet they can pretty much live off the interest of their lifetime savings. It was such a bore after they married her and transformed her into someone extremely good-looking and rich.
posted by anniecat at 2:54 PM on January 14, 2011


Otherwise, how could you ever visit Dickens or the Sherlock Holmes novels without feeling you've missed out?

Easy. You wait until the movie starring Robert Downey Jr comes out. Problem solved.
posted by anniecat at 2:55 PM on January 14, 2011


So what you're really saying is, you don't feel you missed out on Harry Potter at all. Because the genre doesn't appeal to you.

Why didn't you say that at first, then?

Oh, and by the way, the RDJ Holmes movie... is nothing like a real Sherlock Holmes story.
posted by hippybear at 3:10 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Grammar+Style Police Goes Vampire

Grammar + Style Police GO Vampire.

FFS.
posted by rkent at 3:14 PM on January 14, 2011


I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and noticed that they have a four shelf section for the category "teen paranormal romance." "Science" has only three shelves.
posted by localroger at 3:35 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and noticed that they have a four shelf section for the category "teen paranormal romance." "Science" has only three shelves.
It's only cool for teens to love Jesus!
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:37 PM on January 14, 2011


I don't have a problem with the Twilight books being a phenomenon. I'm perfectly happy to see teens reading 1000+ page book series, as opposed to, I dunno, US Weekly. Not that one necessarily precludes the other, of course, but it's a start any way.
posted by antifuse at 3:50 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why didn't you say that at first, then?

Because on its own it doesn't appeal to me, but it appeals to me to try something everyone else is doing. Vampires don't appeal to me either, but I'll see what all the fuss is about. Trouble is, without any current fuss, I don't feel motivated to try it.

No, I wouldn't jump off a bridge just because everyone else would. At least I hope I wouldn't.
posted by anniecat at 3:52 PM on January 14, 2011


The only thing worse than blockbuster pop fiction is the proliferation of pedantic snobs and assholes it invariably seems to encourage.
posted by nasreddin at 3:52 PM on January 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


the RDJ Holmes movie... is nothing like a real Sherlock Holmes story.

Oh, of course. It's very hard to top a movie starring Jude Law and RDJ together. (HAHAHA I crack me up. Don't slap your forehead too hard, hippybear.)
posted by anniecat at 4:00 PM on January 14, 2011


No forehead slapping going on here. Just a bit of realization about what you mean with your words, and an understanding that this conversation is going nowhere.
posted by hippybear at 4:07 PM on January 14, 2011


It would have been pretty damned swell to be able read Dickens or Doyle as they were being released serially in the 19th century though.

Dickens is especially interesting; the serial publication/magazine/compendium marketplace and scene were so wild . . . especially if you were Charles Dickens. Rumors of adultery, eventual divorce several different periodicals when he couldn't get his way with the first, etc. H.G. Wells, at least a lot of the early stuff (War of the Worlds, etc) were also first published serially. I imagine that following those things might be sort of similar to wanting to follow the publication of The Twilight Saga.

Maybe.
posted by scdjpowell at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2011


an understanding that this conversation is going nowhere.

Understood. We shall never speak of it again.
posted by anniecat at 4:36 PM on January 14, 2011


Bella's a contemporary teenager. Not paying attention to anything going on around herself, and mumbling all the time--it's an astutely accurate portrayal. (I only read the two links in the FPP).
posted by SomeTrickPony at 4:38 PM on January 14, 2011


The only thing worse than blockbuster pop fiction is the proliferation of pedantic snobs and assholes it invariably seems to encourage.

Specially as I don't see this sort of mass contempt for stuff teenage boys like.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:50 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't notice that it is bad.

Trust me on this.
posted by steambadger at 4:52 PM on January 14, 2011


The only thing worse than blockbuster pop fiction is the proliferation of pedantic snobs and assholes it invariably seems to encourage.

I agree... unless said pedantry is really well-done. I think this one's good enough to justify my love. (Also, it's about Twilight, which is in a special category of "popular and awful" for anybody who was unfortunate enough to attend either high school or college sometime in the last five years.)

Bella's a contemporary teenager. Not paying attention to anything going on around herself, and mumbling all the time--it's an astutely accurate portrayal.

I'm reminded of David Foster Wallace's essay E Unibus Pluram, specifically the part that talks about how as TV attempted to mirror society, and as society tried to mirror what it saw on television, eventually TV just became a mirror of itself.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:56 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just back from playing Scrabble (I lost).

Grammar+Style Police Goes Vampire
Grammar + Style Police GO Vampire.
FFS.


Oh no. This is one single vampire police. Like the neighbor's kid when I was five, dividing tasks in the sandbox: "Okay. I am Police." No article, no fancy grammar.
posted by Namlit at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2011


BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

(I have never read any of these books but have seen many LiveJournalism school grads dissect them with relish.)
posted by Gator at 5:16 PM on January 14, 2011


I am happy to revel in my own ignorance for this thread.

It took me two clicks to figure out what was being talked about here.

Why can't kids read shit like Encyclopedia Brown and Cam Jansen anymore?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:28 PM on January 14, 2011


What is the point of this, nit picking the writing from the twilight series is like picking on the weird loner kid. Take on the writing of some literary giant, let's hear how the quarterback sucks or is the author of this blog in need of some cheap acceptance, kick the weird kid so all the other sophisticates can point and laugh.

We lament the death of books, then belittle popular literature. Not everyone wants to read Flaubert.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2011


Specially as I don't see this sort of mass contempt for stuff teenage boys like.

I sure do hate bodyspray and underwhelming facial hair. Does that count?
posted by Jilder at 7:28 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


BUT SHE COULDN'T FIND HER LIPS!

We've all been there, amirite?
posted by ostranenie at 7:29 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Specially as I don't see this sort of mass contempt for stuff teenage boys like.

I'm trying to think what a teenage-boy analogue to Twilight would be. Eragon? Transformers 2?
posted by brookedel at 7:42 PM on January 14, 2011


Missing the VampMeyers tag.
posted by ostranenie at 8:36 PM on January 14, 2011


Grammar+Style Police Goes Vampire

Grammar + Style Police GO Vampire.


This is a regional difference thing, actually. For example:

"Metallica is a band" (American English) vs. "Metallica are a band" (British English)
posted by explosion at 8:38 PM on January 14, 2011


Why can't kids read shit like Encyclopedia Brown and Cam Jansen anymore?

Because Encyclopedia Brown was a smug little jackwagon and everyone is better off reading Wikipedia Brown. By the end of things I was cheering hard for Bugs Meany to win the day and for Sally Brown to go write passionate billet-doux to Nancy Drew.

I'm tired of the Twilight roasting because I feel that all the road that could be tread there has been trod. At this point it is empty sneers that are sometimes dipped in misogyny. If this is the line where we should instead be suggesting what Kids Today should read, I would issue every child with a good Agent Arthur mystery.

Oh, and by the way, the RDJ Holmes movie... is nothing like a real Sherlock Holmes story.

Nothing is ever going to be like a real Sherlock Holmes story, man! This does not make it a bad gateway drug to the Doyle. Nothing is ever going to be the Speckled Band or the Red-Headed League. Gaiman can try. Laurie King can try. The movie imho was a charming approximation and contained Manic Pixie Dream Downey Jr, and therefore was a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
posted by monster truck weekend at 8:39 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to think what a teenage-boy analogue to Twilight would be. Eragon? Transformers 2?

Darren Shan and Cirque du Freak, which is not at all a bad alternative.
posted by monster truck weekend at 8:40 PM on January 14, 2011


The only thing I needed to learn about Twilight that scared me off for good is that it features a dental caesarian section as a plot point.

Yep, that was it. Check please.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


dental caesarian section

Well it does take like... 4 books? I think? For that to happen?

I've been doing a lot of repeated re-readings of my favorite YA stuff and I'm realizing that there are a LOT of authors who have weird ticks, particularly around alternatives to "said", that their editors don't seem to catch. (I swear everyone in the Alanna quartet "wants to know" something every few pages.) Twilight reads like it hasn't really been edited very well, I guess? Like it's fanfic with a beta reader that's scared of hurting the writer's feelings.
posted by NoraReed at 9:34 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


While reading this I thought I heard a low mutter, a bass growling sound: not quite a keening because that would be much higher and this was more like a mumble, a chilling mumble. My eyes tightened. Where are my lips?, I wondered. Where? Where? I murmured. Then I opened my mouth to enunciate clearer, and found them. Oh, these are my lips, I realized, and suddenly noticed I was lolling: out loud.
posted by taz at 11:12 PM on January 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Missing the VampMeyers tag.
What, I demanded, my heart spluttering away like an hyperactive Barbie guinea pig, have I missed yet another thing? Clearly not my day, I muttered.

For the record, those books are perfect read over the telephone, for lone (out)postdocs and their SO's. Tested. You don't need depth when you are looking for excuses for not hanging up.
posted by Namlit at 12:14 AM on January 15, 2011


I'm trying to think what a teenage-boy analogue to Twilight would be. Eragon? Transformers 2?

I'm trying to think of something a lot of teenage boys like which features sexism, unrealistic relationships, horrible writing, vapid "characters", and inane plots.

All I've come up with so far is "EVERYTHING" but I'm sure I'll think of something else eventually.
posted by Legomancer at 5:38 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This website fails at its stated mission because a search for "glowered" comes up dry.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Same with "demanded".
It's deconstruction in progress, so perhaps next week.
posted by Namlit at 12:24 PM on January 15, 2011


She's just called me from her holiday with her grandparents to tell me she's bought "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". She's 12.

I fear I have created a monster.

posted by malibustacey9999


Just thought I'd let you know she finished it today (my comment got so many favourites, you're all probably dobbing me into childrens protective service agencies as we speak so need more ammunition), she loved reading it, but tonight she came to me saying, "um, I don't exactly understand it and I know far too much about drugs now. But I'm going to read it again and see if it makes more sense.".

Cue conversation re: gonzo journalism, Hunter S. himself, the 70's, Rolling Stone... but at the end of our chat she admitted that she only wanted to read it in the first place because Johnny Depp was in the movie.

I don't know if I should be relieved or mortified.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:01 AM on January 17, 2011


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