The RITA judging guidelines describe a 4.0 book as “poor.” I hope no one entering the RITA contest earns such a pitiable rating, since one has to wonder how such an inferior book got published in the first place. Was it self-published on a whim without a fleeting thought toward copy-editing? Was it an unscrupulous vanity publisher taking advantage of someone with a dream but little actual talent? I can honestly say I’ve never read such a horror of a book, but I imagine someone out there has, and I can also imagine how such a book would unfold.
Many years ago, a friend of mine rented a dvd for us to watch titled “Angel”—the description looked interesting as it took place in the 19th century and the heroine was a scrappy little authoress trying to put her stamp on the world. Anyway, I was stunned by how truly awful the movie was! What proceeded to unfold was a nearly unwatchable atrocity that was part Lifetime movie and part soap opera, with some added sprinklings of gothic novel and pretentious art film thrown in for a few good eye-rolls. People went mad and killed themselves for no particular reason. Fortunes were won and lost in ludicrous scenarios. Spouses pined and were tormented by unrequited love and driven mad (the very delectable Michael Fassbender, in what I can only assume was his first role). Worst of all, the woman that we, as the audience, was supposedly rooting for was the snottiest little thing imaginable!
She turned up her nose at the most well-intentioned advice. She wasn’t scrappy but out-and-out aggressive, even when people were being nice to her. In fact, her character can be perfectly summed up by the bizarre conversation she had with her potential publisher very early on in the movie. He asked who her favorite authors were, and she rudely intoned something like, “I don’t read other authors. I don’t want my mind muddied with words that aren’t my own.” Ha! That’s like a doctor saying, “I didn’t study human anatomy. I didn’t want my mind muddied with pesky facts and learning.”
Now, I can only imagine if that godawful movie heroine was a real person and she wrote a book and I was forced to read it, that I would quickly find myself reading a shockingly poor 4.0 book. Such a book would contain undeveloped writing skills. It would be riddled with misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage, and not simply as a style choice, but because she arrogantly assumes her way is correct, and the rest of the world is wrong. The plot would be silly, the characters wholly unappealing. I might finish the thing, but only to determine if such a literary anomaly would collapse upon itself after reading the last page, like a blackhole miserably consuming itself.
The only virtue such a book can offer? It can be valued for its sheer ridiculousness, if nothing else. My friend and I laughed uproariously while watching that stupid movie that clocked in at a whopping 134 minutes! Excruciating. Sometimes truly awful attempts at art can be unintentional sources of entertainment.
Next week we'll touch on our final RITA rating: Below 4.0, or very poor. Egads, people! Shield your eyes and hide your babies!