Book Review – Drivel by Julia Scott (Editor)
November 28, 2014
The writing in this book is so bad, it deserves its own taxonomy of suckitude.
Gillian Flynn, Mary Roach, Dave Eggers, Rick Moody, Chuck Palahniuk, Amy Tan, A.J. Jacobs, Daniel Clowes, Jeff Greenwald, Po Bronson…the list goes on. They all sucked once, and they all have the guts to share some of their crappiest early work in Drivel: an uplifting bit of voyeurism, based on the sold-out “Regreturature” stage shows in San Francisco, and brought to you by Litquake and the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
Within these pages you’ll find abstruse and esoteric poetry (bad); incoherent and illogical short stories (worse); bumfuzzling proto-journalism (shameful); and pretentious, overwrought journal entries (we’ll not speak of this again).
Thanks to these courageous but foolhardy writers, the world now knows the real meaning of a work-in-progress.
For Nonfiction November, I decided to peruse the nonfiction new releases at my local library for some inspiration. I came across Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors, and thought that this may be the perfect read to help me break out of my novel revision rut. If I could get a sense of what other authors have struggled through during writing, it could inspire me to keep plowing ahead. Alas, this was not the book to achieve that particular goal.
It’s actually hard to write a review of this book. Most of the writers took the easy way out, in my opinion, by sharing some writing from childhood. Although some of it was humorous and cute, I wouldn’t consider it “bad” writing for that age. Some authors did take more of a risk and share writing from adulthood. The problem was that some of it was indeed bad, not funny, and a little painful to get through. Of all the samples included, only a few were bad, humorous, and worth the time it took to read.
I did appreciate the format of the book, which included brief biographies on the writers to give you some context for the samples shared. It may not have fulfilled my expectations, but there may be others who enjoy the book more than I did. Let me know if you decide to peruse it and what you think!