reading the worst book ever is like losing your virginity: if you suspect it's happened but you aren't sure, it hasn't. i am dead certain that i've read the worst book ever, and it is chris bachelder's bear v. shark. if i met the author in the street, i'd smack him. he seems to be accustomed to this sort of reaction, so i'd smack him again to make my point clear.

jacketed as "quick, commercial-like segments that mirror the media it satirizes," bachelder's style is better pegged as a product of sloth:
I hadn't written much fiction before, and it was the only way I could write it. I couldn't handle a long plot, I couldn't handle a long involved narrative, so I had to break it up into pieces, so it was very practical in that sense. I was really just trying to write a novel the only way that I could, and at some point I said to myself okay, this has got to work at a thematic level too otherwise it won't work at all, but it happened to.

(bookslut interview, 01.04)
nods toward more diligent novelists (pynchon and wallace pop up two and four times, respectively) make it clear that he's been exposed to plenty of solid structure, and a few decent characterizations of the nevada desert, for instance, are evidence of real (if smothered) talent. half-page news teasers and a premature index posing as chapters, on the other hand - if those were attempts to "[set] a mousetrap and [spring] it," or "set up punch lines and then pop them...in little fragmented pieces," they were bad. bad like a cobra. bookslut interview, continued:
BS: You were talking about Vegas and the Darwin dome, and that brings to mind something else I wanted to ask you about, which is one of the touches I really enjoyed - how Vegas was its own sovereign nation, and I kind of thought that you could take that three different ways, which is that A, Vegas is just so outside the norm of American life that it really deserves to be its own country, and they're kind of playing up that angle right now, if you've seen their commercials..

CB: Oh really?

BS: I think their tag line is, "Vegas - what happens here, stays here."

CB: [laughing] Oh, that's funny.

BS: Or B, that Vegas, being the entertainment capital of the world, and you can disabuse me of this notion if I'm way off base here, I thought you were saying that Vegas would naturally be alone because of the aloneness that necessarily results from surrounding yourself with all these amusements instead of real relationships...

CB: Ohhh -

BS: Or the third thing is that C, that I'm reading way too much into a throwaway gag.

CB: I really -- I really like that second one, and I wish that it had been a conscious intent -- I'm not sure it was, but I like that idea. Especially in the sense -- Wallace talks about this too, about how lonely watching television and our entertainments can make us -- that television produces that isolation, but I can't say that I was going for it intentionally.
it pains me to think that this is how published authors work. flames, on the side of my face...breathing, breathless, heaving breaths...

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