Beam Trained on Bad Writing

Alex Beam had a pretty good column in the Globe today, that closes with him nominating novelist Anne Rice for the annual Edward Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction writing award. “The prize is named after the man who wrote the immortal phrase, ‘It was a dark and stormy night,'” writes Beam. “I was tempted to nominate Ben Mezrich, but we know there’s nothing fictional about his work, right?”

Two thoughts here:

1. Is Mezrich in trouble? He’s been unctuously deft at deflecting criticism for the fact that much of his books are bunko. But after in-depth examinations in Boston mag and the Globe‘s Ideas section (which had Gay Talese and Sebastian Junger slapping the kid around, and which was picked up in the Times), people are starting to make Mezrich jokes without adding context.

This suggests the idea that he’s full of it has at least partly penetrated the reading public’s consciousness. Does this spell trouble for the writer? I’m guessing probably not. Yet. But it doesn’t bode well. (While we’re on the topic, can someone get him to stop dressing like a regular at The Rack in 2002? It lowers us all.)

2. While Beam nominates Rice for the bad writing contest, I’d like to nominate the Globe‘s own Derrick Z. Jackson, for this nightmare crashup:

“Ah, but what about hamburgers? When the candidates tell us to stay out of McDonald’s, then we will know their light bulbs are on. The end of timid politics is when they say that with the planet being at stake, you must eat less steak.”

Try reading that aloud. There’s something about that “then we will” and the “that with” that renders it impossible.

If someone over there agrees to start editing this guy, I’ll swear off beef forever.