December 6th, 2011 / 12:27 pm

ToBS R1: characters that ‘just have to have their stories told’ vs. celebrity fiction

[Matchup #17 in Tournament of Bookshit]

I don’t how many people who hate this novel, or just want to make fun of it (hereherehere, and here for a random smattering of the shit-talking) cite the following passage as an example of bad writing: “Gia danced around a little, shaking her peaches for show. She shook it hard. Too hard. In the middle of a shimmy, her stomach cramped. A fart slipped out. A loud one. And stinky.” Snooki’s “novel” might be bad (I wouldn’t know; I’ve only read one excerpt enough to write this), but shall I compare this to a summer’s day–I mean to Ayn fucking Rand, in particular from Atlas Shrugged (a book I read when I was 19 and won’t bother with again because it’s Ayn fucking Rand)?: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” It should be obvious to you that the excerpt from A Shore Thing is immensely better writing than the selection from Rand’s tome. It is specific and rhythmic (even staccato, with the lilting iambic opening of “Gia danced around a little” followed by the trochaic “shaking” tossed in for variety, only to slide seamlessly back to the iamb in “her peaches for show”; then with the passage’s fragments it even mimics the sound of flatulence), and restrained, not indulging in metaphor and relying on the simple visual of “peaches.” Compare that to the gluttony of metaphoric ineptitude of comparing one’s drive for life to a fire and its requisite sparks. And what the fuck are the “hopeless swamps of the not quite”? Sounds like Rand’s prose is a bit backed up, like she could’ve used a laxative for clarity. The rest of the passage sounds like an American Family Insurance commercial. Snooki, FTW.

Jamie Iredell

– – –

WINNER: celebrity fiction



  1. Tim Jones-Yelvington


  2. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      That passage is really good, now I want to read Snooki’s book.

  3. Daniel Bailey

      snooki didn’t write that book! characters that “just have to have their stories told” got cheated!

      my bracket is falling apart.

  4. Mason Johnson

      Is Snooki a character whose story just has to be told?

  5. DK

      Snooki’s novel is awful. Not on the same tier of awful as Ayn Rand (what is, really?), but still awful. I read the first chapter in a bookstore out of curiosity and that was enough; it’s a Mary Sue of the highest, and worst, order. Still, comparing its prose with Rand’s was an interesting exercise; kudos, Jamie.

  6. Bobby Dixon

      Is Snooki a character? Yes. 

      Ought we allow her to story to be told? Yes, but hopefully it will be violent. 

  7. c2k

      I agree.

  8. c2k

      These two examples really stack the deck for a celeb fiction win. Snooki’s fiction has camp value; Rand is an easy target.  

  9. Jason Jimenez

      mine too

  10. Bobby Dixon

      Just realized that Snooki gets beat up, or something, in her show. I wasn’t making a reference to the violence in Snooki’s life/show, just wishing there was more violence whenever Snooki is involved.

      I would like to see Snooki do some embedded journalism. Then release a sex tape. 
      Sorry if this has already happened and my point is stale.  

  11. Jonathan Safran Foer

      “Snook awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day her heart would descend from her chest into her stomach. By early afternoon she was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for her, and by the desire to be alone. By evening she was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of her grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in her loneliness. I am not sad, she would repeat to herself over and over, I am not sad. As if she might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others–the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because her life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. She would fall asleep with her heart at the foot of her bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning she would wake with it again in the cupboard of her rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon she was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.”
      It’s not that bad.

  12. c2k


      I like you, Safran Frog himself.

  13. Jonathan Safran Foer

      Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I’ve discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening.

  14. JW

      “shaking her peaches for show” – writing punishable by lethal injection.  There’s way too much urine in the gene pool.

  15. c2k

      They showed their driver’s licenses. Both girls were
      twenty-one, legal anywhere in America
      to drink until they puked. The bouncer looked at them and said, “This entrance
      is for table service only.”


      Same annoying rule as New
      York City clubs. Table service meant you had to buy,
      say, a $400 bottle of vodka that cost $40 at a liquor store. Friggin’ rip-off.


      “But we’re hot girls,” Gia pointed out. “We don’t need to
      pay for anything.”


      The bouncer sized her up. Which didn’t take long. [ed: Hah!] “You girls from out of town?”

  16. Anonymous

  17. deadgod

      “The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage.”

  18. deadgod

      Dear Nicole,

      If a fart “slip[s] out”, it exits or is expelled (term dependent on your philosophy of will) quietly, for that is implicit, (here) inherent, and communicated by the verb ‘to slip’.

      You might say that a loud fart ‘barged’ out, or, if you wanted to indulge in redundancy, you could go with ‘thundered’ or ‘exploded’ loudly, or you could try an anatomically adventurous image:  ‘A fart elbowed its way out.  A loud one.’

      You might even borrow Chaucer’s iambs and have your character ‘let flee a fart’ loudly.

      ‘Slipping its way out stinkily’ is an sbd sitch!

      Best intestinal health,

  19. Jonathan Safran Foer

      Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are. 

  20. Anonymous

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  28. Leapsloth14

      Frank Sinatra has a cold.