And the winner of the 2002 Bulwer-Lytton is…

EEURGH

On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained.

Though I like this one from the science fiction category:

The controls looked normal–the beeping thing was beeping, the humming thing was humming, the blue number display was displaying blue numbers, the yellow number display was displaying yellow numbers, everything seemed OK, but the redundancy of this interplanetary trip left Col. Mountain feeling troubled, troubled like a beeping thing not beeping, or a humming thing not humming, or a blue number display not displaying blue numbers, or a yellow number display not displaying yellow numbers; nothing felt right.

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Philip K. Dick in Orange County

Another PKD movie, another PKD article… However this one is better than most and deftly stays away from the “he’s crazy” summation that most of these pieces devolve into. There’s even a PKD story I hadn’t heard of…

Powers remembers a call from Phil: he’d figured out the universe, he said.

“I said, ‘Cool!'” Powers says, “And he said, ‘So can you come over after work?'”

“Yeah, I’ll be right over,” Powers said. “But listen: Can you write it out as a limerick?”

“No, I can’t write it out as a limerick!” Dick snapped. “It’s the secret of the universe-come on!”

But when Powers pulled up on his motorcycle, Dick had a limerick for him anyway:

The determinist forces are wrong
But irresistibly strong
While of God there’s a dearth
For he visits the Earth
But not for sufficiently long

He’d even written an alternate ending:

But of God there’s no dearth
For he visits the Earth
Though just for sufficiently long

 

Mark Twain on James Fenimore Cooper

Possibly one of the best poison-pen reviews ever…

I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that “Deerslayer” is not a work of art in any sense; it does seem to me that it is destitute of every detail that goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it seems to me that “Deerslayer” is just simply a literary delirium tremens.

A work of art? It has no invention; it has no order, system, sequence, or result; it has no lifelikeness, no thrill, no stir, no seeming of reality; its characters are confusedly drawn, and by their acts and words they prove that they are not the sort of people the author claims that they are; its humor is pathetic; its pathos is funny; its conversations are — oh! indescribable; its love-scenes odious; its English a crime against the language.

Counting these out, what is left is Art. I think we must all admit that.