Back in February, I initiated the Bad Prose Reading Project — an effort to find new joy and meaning in prose that was truly atrocious. The joy and meaning would be delivered through audio dramatizations.
The idea behind the Project was to respond to a specific phenomenon that all readers know very well. Every now and then, you encounter prose so wonderfully preposterous that it feels quite a crime not to share it with other appreciative readers. Some confine this morbid pleasure to the Bad Sex in Fiction Award handed out yearly by the Literary Review. Others test their mincing mettle by contributing their own exemplars to the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest.
But the best bad prose isn’t always planned. It’s written and discovered by accident.
I had thought that The Bad Prose Reading Project would be a one-off. But then, on April 14, 2011, I discovered an extraordinarily awful specimen. It was so atrocious that it filled me with great delight! And as I read the words, I took further joy! When you listen to the recording, you will hear me go overboard near the end as I preach about “letting live and loving.”
As always, I won’t name the author, the story, or the novel that I’m reading. I feel this is fair to those who may judge the prose to be excellent. Needless to say, if I’m dramatizing it, it’s probably been published somewhere in the last few months. But that’s also part of the fun. Perhaps in dramatizing “bad” prose, the oral delivery may transform it into “good” prose because my dramatization is “bad.” Or perhaps I’m overthinking the experiment.
As always, I invite listeners to judge the results. The second installment of The Bad Prose Reading Project features the phrase “it was real light” and can be listened to below.
The Bad Prose Reading Project #2 (“It Was Real Light”) (Download MP3)