Fiction Bitch

Teleread has a short bit about the Fiction Bitch, an author who will critique your purply prose in no uncertain terms (I wonder what this sentence would net me) out of hatred for bad and mediocre writing.

When I was about twenty I had a pen friend who was nuts about so-called ‘student’ magazine Propria Cures. PC, as it is generally abbreviated, is a satirical magazine. Supposedly written and edited by students, it often has staff that would have been kicked out of university decades ago.

Not sure if I remember this correctly: but apparently, my friend and her friends thought it way cool if you got a mention in the magazine. The editors used the letters page to bitch about bad prose, and sometimes praise good writing.

I had as few illusions about the quality of my writing then as I have now; in order to be printed, thus to be cool, I had to write something that would strike the right level of badness.

I managed to craft a song, a cheerless little ditty about ‘the environment’, of which they printed the refrain. I cannot remember it all, but it went something like: “De bomen gaan dood / De bomen gaan dood / Milieuproblematiek / Groot is de nood”. (The trees are dying / The trees are dying / Environmental problems / Large is the distress. It rhymes in Dutch. Honest, it does!)

Their comment: “Our waste-paper basket shares your pain.”


A family of four returns from its prematurely interrupted ride through the polder and bikes straight into the bustling market. The mother leads and the father closes. They are all wearing brightly coloured rain gear, with the hoods drawn closely over their heads, making them look like mutant smurfs.

The rain is going rat-tat-tat on the leaves of the trees of Sarphatipark. Thousands of drops on thousands of leaves, like drums at a convention of monomaniacs.

Then wilful gusts of wind tear apart the clouds overhead, and suddenly parts of the street are ablaze in the sunlight. Pedestrians have to shield their eyes from the bright reflections in pools.

Near the park, a front door opens in a stately house, and a small child is let out. It starts stomping its rubber boots with joy in every puddle it can find, while its mother tries to extract a carriage from the house.

For the first time in weeks, the streets smell like streets.

There are those who moan that “this is not summer.” I don’t think I understand them.