5 Worst Fiction Writers

These are the authors who are lionized by the Terminally Pretentious Set, for whom “literary” (a.k.a. boring) writing is met with squeals of delight every time a new offering from the authors below is published. Ranked in ascending order of awfulness:

  • Nicholas Sparks — essentially the same story, rewritten twenty times (and counting)
  • Annie Proulx — hates her own character creations, and despises her readers as well
  • Ayn Rand — okay philosopher, terrible writer who should have written textbooks, not fiction
  • Thomas Pynchon — writes the most turgid, unreadable prose of any author in the modern era
  • And special mention: Marcel Proust — wrote the most turgid, unreadable prose of any author before the arrival of Thomas Pynchon.

Your suggestions in Comments.



  1. Pynchon? Awww. He may be Fenimore Cooper to (somebody’s?) Mark Twain, but the early books – V and GR especially – were just fun. It’s not his fault that the litlouts chose him as a way to spite the geezers. Gotta go now, re-reading Leatherstocking Tales and Lot49.

  2. “essentially the same story, rewritten twenty times ”

    Reminds me of David Eddings. The Belgariad was a decent story. The Malloreon was basically the same thing in the form of the sequel.

    Then everything else he wrote, at least 3 other worlds, basically had all the exact same characters, just with different names: the same accents, the same exact catchphrases. He loved those characters so much he just carried them over to a bunch of new worlds.

    (I just looked at Wikipedia, and it looks like he hasn’t written anything since 2006. I wonder if his last series tanked.)

  3. Either Silyvia Plath or Virginia Wolf. I had to read one of their books and I gladly can’t remember which. It was utter rubbish.

    1. I liked it, but it was terribly long winded.
      Anthem has pretty much the same message but is much more condensed.

  4. Howard Zinn- commie agitprop as “history” for the smug. And it’s not even interesting history.
    And yes, Zinn’s histories do count as fiction.

    Hunter S. Thompson. Great when exaggerating his own adventures. Terrible when trying his hand at fiction. “Rum Diaries” was tedious.

    John Scalzi. His “Redshirts” started out kind of funny- a kind of PTerry/Douglas Adams parody of Star Trek kind of thing. Which then tried to aim at being kind of a Philip K Dick mindtwist, but instead got sucked into it’s own pretentiousness at how clever it thought it was.

    George RR Martin. Who is a talented writer. But it’s kind of like watching Richard Burton in “Exorcist II” or Sean Connery in “Zardoz”- their talent takes what is a bad movie, and kicks it up a few notches into terrible. GRRM’s super obvious nihilism takes you right out of his “Game of Thrones”, when you realize that any characters you like are dead or broken, and you are hoping that the White Walkers kill or enslave the rest of the sorry cast.

    1. Nihilism just makes everything worse. Unless it provides an excuse for someone to not even try to be good. I don’t mean Pollyanna but reasonable attitude to life. His life could be a lot worse.

    2. GRRM is horrid. Couldn’t get through even the first half of the first book in his massive epic.

      It has promise, but suffers from being long winded and a writing style that overall grates me. Maybe with a lot of editing it can be made palatable.

      The others, I don’t know.

  5. Gee, Kim, I thought Anthem, We The Living, Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged were textbooks.

  6. I am proud to nominate my fellow Canadian, the unreadable, vile, disgusting Margaret Atwood.

    Always an ugly hysterical leftist in Canada, she rose to prominence worldwide by writing “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

    Not only was it a silly, misandrous piece of unreadable lefty crap, but she stole the entire plot from Robert Heinlein’s “Revolt in 2100”, then perverted that plot.

    Her worst sin: Not even acknowledging Heinlein or her theft.

    1. And she re-wrote that book a couple times with different titles.

      I *despise* her.

    2. And not to mention that she based the center of her “right wing” center of culture in one of the most progressive bastions of America. Makes many of her American praisers still go “what?”

  7. For all that I enjoyed the storyline of Fountainhead and He Shrugged, I came up with what I call the Ayn Rand syndrome: Never use just one word when 200 will do.

    1. I read Atlas Shrugged because, as a libertarian, it was supposed to be our Bible. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever read–even Communist propaganda isn’t that wordy and repetitive. That’s what it is though–propaganda.

  8. For the classics, Charles Dickens. David Copperfield gave me a true understanding of the German phrase “Es erlaubt sich nicht gelesen zu werden”: It does not permit itself to be read.

  9. And for authors who’re not bad but have very bad periods, there’s John Norman.
    Self proclaimed philosopher, fantasy writer with erotic overtones, he has some pretty decent books but many others that could do with cutting away about half the content, especially the horrid monologues about the virtues of a strong male dominated society where women find freedom in sexual slavery.

    Light reading, on the level of John Carter from Mars and Tarzan. If you don’t try to read more into it than that, try a few of his older books when you’ve too much on your mind for deep thought.

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