(Not-So- ) Great Scott! Fitzgerald, that is . . .

OK, I have read and enjoyed most of Mr. Fitzgerald’s books. But I recently started “The Beautiful and Damned.” It was OK, though I strongly suspect Zelda had just bought Scott a new Thesaurus when he started it.

Then he sneaks up behind me and hits me over the head with the line, “Her eyes were gleaming ripples in the white lake of her face.” Say WHAT? I’m sorry, if I ever wrote a line like that, my editor would line me up against the wall and shoot me.

Now I just cannot bring myself to finish the book. What if there are equally bad lines—or even WORSE ones!—lying in wait for me? So I took Fyodor Sologub’s “The Little Demon” (1907) out of the library. Anyone read this? Any good? No lake-faces in it, I hope?

Wow, that’s right up there with the line from my very first romance novel:

“And they were left as embers on the hearth of love.”

Even though I was only 12, I knew excrable writing when I saw it.

Yeah, well, anyone who wrote “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender is the Night” gets a pass for writing one line of crappy prose.

I still remember a line from Michael Arlen’s “The Green Hat,” which I read nearly 20 years ago: “Her car stood there, like a bruise on the face of eternity.”

YIKES! I had to go to bed with a sick headache for a week after THAT little bon-bon.

I don’t think you can be ‘lined up’ if there’s just one of you.

Is’nt there some kind of Bad Descriptions of the Sexual Act In Literature award? I’m pretty sure its held every year, with this years winner likening his copulating girlfreind to various electrical appliances, and her reaching orgasm shouting, “Aiwa! Aiwa! Aiwa!”

So, apparently Fitzgerald at his worst is almost as bad as Robert James Waller (Bridges of Madison County) at his best.

Hemmingway hated him. that’s a good enough recommendation for me. Besides, I loke women with rippling lakes for faces. :wink:

If you’re interested in reading a slew of badly written sentences, look at the regular column “Thog’s Masterclass” in Ansible, available online at


These mostly come from science fiction works, but there are occasional quotes from other things.