Reader readers, I owe you an apology. I tried really hard in my review of Vintage Attraction, a new novel by Charles Blackstone (aka Mr. Alpana Singh), to convey its badness, but I’m afraid I failed. I spent so much time concentrating on the flaws of Blackstone’s protagonist and various structural issues that I barely mentioned how truly terrible the prose is and how painful it was to read.
Fortunately, the staff at Time Out Chicago has seen fit to create a drinking game based on the infelicities of Blackstone’s prose. A few examples/excuses to drink:
Drink anytime you find yourself mentally editing a sentence: Ex: “An intricate architectural infrastructure of columns that had been gessoed with decades-faded Le Monde front pages ensconced our table.” p. 45; “Despite my redoubtable engorgement last night, I was starving.” p. 223
Drink anytime you find yourself saying “Yikes!” aloud while reading. Ex: “I inserted myself, gradually and suddenly, my cock jumping the Brazilian waxed turnstile, and plunged into the subway.” p. 119
Drink in this sentence (again): “For twenty years, my cock had stood at perpetual attention, stoic, compliant, dimly guileless, smiling dumbly, yet capable, in theory, of wreaking great havoc, like an armed and overweight bank branch rent-a-cop.” p. 99
And this: “With a formidable intake of breath, she respired her olfactory mucosa, which elevated snot into her brain. I suspected that illicit trafficked agents had spent the better part of the night up there colluding with her latent lower-minded impulses.” p. 184
That is some weirdly bad writing from someone who works as an editor (managing editor of Bookslut) and who has an impressive-sounding list of publications, including Esquire (well, OK, Esquire.com, and his story was originally written on a napkin) and a play performed at the Lifeline Theater (well, OK, in conjunction with a benefit featuring Singh).
Also weird: after Time Out‘s theater critic Kris Vire tweeted, “The workday pretty much fell apart when we started reading Charles Blackstone’s novel out loud to each other,” Blackstone tweeted back, “I see drinking game potential.” So he’s pretty much giving them permission to mock his deathless prose?
What the hell is going on here? Is the whole book a joke? Did Blackstone happen to win some secret write-a-bad-book contest? Is he gunning for the Literary Review‘s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award? (Previous winners have included Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer; John Updike received a special Lifetime Achievement Award.) If anyone has any ideas, please pass them on.