Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Surfeit of Sweetness and Light

Have some great literary insults. Some of these are very good.

I do wonder, though, what will happen to literary insults in the future. All of the writers on my blog list, both published and unpublished, are such nice people. I don't have anything bad to say about any of them. You're all utterly lovely, and I have nothing bad to say about any of you. How dull :p

Perhaps some of you wouldn't mind being nasty for a bit, so we can get some fake feuds going? We can still be friends in secret.


  1. LOL!!

    No. 7 is my favourite: "he is the very pimple of the age's humbug"


    I'd love to be insulting but would like to be classy as well or wittier a la Paula Yates' comeback to Ian Hislop's repeated jibes by referring to him as "the sperm of the devil"!

    Take care

  2. LOL I need to think about this one... I try not to be mean, I'll come back when I have something a little mean to say!!

  3. Aren't we writers cruel to each other? I try very hard not to be -- and knowing that such quotes live forever, well, that's just more motivation to be kind ... or at least be quiet!

  4. WOW! That was different. I was taught if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything. I sometimes have to work very hard to abide by the rule...sometimes I win, sometimes I don't. Today I win!!!

  5. Interesting reading. Now we live in a changed literary climate where we're all trying to be so nice, politically correct and praise each other to the skies even when it's lies. (Hey, I made a rhyme! That never happens.) Where if you say too much bad, you have to apologize later. I actually found something refreshing in these clever put-downs.

  6. I liked Coward's view of Wilde,
    "Am reading more of Oscar Wilde. What a tiresome, affected sod."
    It takes one to know one is all I could think!

    How is that for me being nasty?

    Mind you I have a great deal of affection for much of Coward's work. So I am probably just a hypocrite.


    Publish or Perish

  7. Well, at the very least we unpublished writers can band together and come up with insults for published authors based on sheer bitterness and jealousy, right?

    Of course, I don't think I'm witty enough to come up with anything that's got the right balance of entertaining over just plain mean...

  8. Kitty, I saw that episode but had forgotten about it! I liked the line but I didn't think Paula was quite at her best that day. Btw, I met Ian Hislop at a book signing once and he's surprisingly tall!

    Jen, I'm looking forward to it - I just can't imagine you being nasty :)

    Cynthia, do you remember the Alice Hoffman/Twitter debacle when she responded to a bad review? I think in the digital age nasty quotes live even longer, because they're easier to spread. . .

    Ann, glad you won today :) I was raised to believe that if you can't say something nice, try for something funny, and if you can't manage either, say nothing. Not quite as morally sound as your upbringing but it was fun sometimes :)

    I agree Karen, I think writing and publishing depends a lot on community now - we depend on established writers for blurbs and reviews, and we're all told to blog and tweet and platform-build and connect. . . so you're just not allowed say 'Genius Writer is utter crap!' anymore. I'm sure less negativity is a good thing, but less honesty? It's one to think about certainly.

    Al, I like both Wilde and Coward and I reckon that both you and Coward have a point. Maybe it's possible to be insulting and affectionate at the same time?

    Paul, we have to keep our insults a secret, you never know who might offer to review your book someday. We could start a secret support group, though, where we meet up in a darkened room and whisper 'I don't like X's books. . .'

  9. Hi Ellen, excellent link, I feel happy that all these great writers are human like the rest of us.
    I was actually getting affronted by the insults to our great Irish writers before I realised they don't really need me to defend them.

    I agree, humour is a great weapon and more successful than plain nastiness.

  10. Brigid, it looks like you weren't 'somebody' back in the day until someone insulted you.

    I felt a bit bad for Shaw until I saw how he could give as good as he got. And there's no sense in pitying Oscar.


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