The Worst Book Ever Written?

I have frequently described Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang as one of the worst books ever written. There is little room for doubt about this. Few books in the history of publishing are as stupid, as arrogant, as dishonest or as incompetent as this one. But then I started thinking – what is THE worst book ever written?

There are some interesting suggestions online. For example, The Shadow God by Aaron Rayburn seems to be a strong contender. I was greatly amused by a review by C. Dennis Moore on Amazon.com:

“Trapped under a beam with the countdown ticking away, the monster just on the other side of the battered door, and my friends are trying to free me, I look up at them and yell, “Go on without me. I’ll be alright. I’ll hold him off while you escape!” And my friends, because they know my sacrifice won’t be in vain, make their getaway and when the monster breaks through just as the explosives go off, I know I died saving the lives of my dearest friends.” That pretty much sums up my experience reading Aaron Rayburn’s novel, THE SHADOW GOD. I took one for the team, so the rest of you would NEVER have to be subjected to this beast. I beg you, don’t let my selflessness be for nothing. Heed my warning. This is the worst book ever written.”

The review is well worth reading. Here are a couple more examples of Rayburn’s bad prose style from the review:

“The lamp’s glow was very weak compared to the blue glow emancipating from the basement.”

“It infiltrated his lungs, filling them with a kind of innovativeness he had never felt before.”

There is a fair amount of bad spelling and clumsy English in Cassidy’s tome, but nothing quite as bad as this.

Another strong contender is Moon People, by Dale M Courtney, whose blurb for the book tells us pretty much all we need to know:

“This Book is based on the turning point for Earth into a new era of space travel and the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. The story focuses on one Man by the Name of David Braymer and his adventures from High school teacher to 1st Science Officer on board the Lunar Base 1 Mobile Base Station and his encounters with Alien Life forms through out our universe and the space Battle of all battles David experiences. I hope you enjoy the many adventures of David Braymer and his conquest in space and our journey into the Age of Aquarius.”

However, some reviewers have suggested that Moon People is a hoax, that there is something too perfectly dumb about its stupidity, and intentional, deliberate stupidity for comic effect somehow spoils the joke.

Another famously terrible book is William McGonagall’s Poetic Gems. McGonagall, a Scotsman of Donegal origin, believed that he was divinely inspired to write his poems, but unfortunately the Almighty failed to provide him with a knowledge of scansion. Thus we find famous passages like this, from The Funeral of the German Emperor:

And there were torches fastened on pieces of wood stuck in the ground;

 And as the people gazed on the weird-like scene, their silence was profound;

 And the shopkeepers closed their shops, and hotel-keepers closed in the doorways,

 And with torchlight and gaslight, Berlin for once was all ablaze.

 

The authorities of Berlin in honour of the Emperor considered it no sin,

 To decorate with crape the beautiful city of Berlin;

 Therefore Berlin I declare was a city of crape,

 Because few buildings crape decoration did escape.

However, my personal favourite is Jamie Bryson, author and publisher of Four Men Had a Dream. An Ulster Loyalist and Born-Again Christian, Bryson rose to prominence during the Flegs Protest in Belfast a couple of years ago. Since then, he has published several works of illiterate drivel which have inspired Amazon reviewers to make comments like:

This ‘author’ writes like a 12 year-old girl, when she was 5.

The author is a complete knucklehead, a fascist and illiterate. I read this as a bet because I couldn’t believe anything was as bad as I was told it was. I was wrong, I’ll never be sure of anything ever again…other than this is terrible.

So, Cassidy’s crazy book is not the only show in town. There are plenty of other very bad books out there. What the books mentioned above all have in common with each other and with Cassidy’s garbage is that they are the work of people with massive egos who are of very limited ability. Stupidity on its own is not funny. Stupidity like Cassidy’s or Bryson’s, stupidity combined with an immense overconfidence and arrogance, is always a fitting subject for mockery.

 

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