The cult section of the literary world

The 7 Types of Bizarro Fiction Haters

by Carlton Mellick III

While bizarro fiction just isn’t some readers’ cup of tea, there are other people out there who just absolutely loathe the stuff. Just the fact that bizarro exists makes these people rage. Whether they’ve read any of it or not, the idea of bizarro gets under their skin. They often go out of their way to express their hate for the genre. They’ll even buy bizarro books just to prove to themselves how terrible they think the genre is. Wherever people are openly cheering for the genre, these guys always have to come along just to stomp out everyone’s positive opinions.

They are the bizarro fiction haters. And they are extreme douchebags.

If you’re a bizarro fiction writer, I’m sure you’ve encountered these haters before. Maybe they’ve even made you feel bad about writing the kind of books you love to write. But don’t let them discourage you. I’m here to tell you that these people really don’t matter. They are pathetic misinformed bitter human beings who, when you think about it, are actually pretty hilarious.

Let me introduce you to the seven types of bizarro fiction haters I have seen over the years:

The “2 Literary 4 U” Hater

Excuse me, but I only read “literary” fiction. You know, the kinds of books that are of a “finer quality” than your average low-brow drivel. I refuse to believe that just “any” type of fiction can have artistic merit, especially not the crap that you immature “bizarro” writers produce. If you dare mention that movies, comic books, or genre fiction can have any artistic value comparable to that of my beloved “literature” I will rage all over your ass.

For a work to be considered “quality” it must fit the Academia-approved definition of “fine literature.” And I can tell you bizarro fiction doesn’t come close. It’s just not “serious” enough, not “deep” enough, not “up its own ass” enough, and it appeals to more than just three MFA students. So it’s quite obvious you guys aren’t the Shakespeares of our time. You’re just a new breed of trashy pulp writers. And don’t you dare mention that Shakespeare was considered the equivalent of a trashy pulp writer in his day. In all honesty, the existence of bizarro fiction just offends the hell out of me. Not because the content is offensive, but because it cheapens my definition of “literature.” And I hold “literature” sacred above all things. Do not make light of it or I will destroy you.

The “2 Subtle 4 U” Hater

Bizarro fiction writers suck because they “try too hard.” Those titles, those covers, those wacky author photos… obviously they are overcompensating for a lack of talent. You know what’s a good title? The Wind. You know what’s a good cover? A gray mist with the silhouette of a dead tree in the distance. You know what’s a good plot? A sad housewife cleaning her basement with a buttload of subtext behind every sentence. Now that’s what I call true art.

I’m going to criticize pretty much anyone who tries to stand out or do anything different. Very little ever impresses me, so don’t even try. I swear that I like weird fiction, as long as the weird elements are so subtly handled that they’re practically nonexistent. I’m kind of like the straight-laced guy at punk rock shows who says he likes punk but all he does is stand in the back of the club bitching about how much he hates tattoos, moshing, and mohawks. I have absolutely no sense of humor and the idea of standing out in a crowd scares the hell out of me to no end. I am also the most boring human being alive.

The “Something-for-the-Sake-of-Something” Hater

Bizarro is just weird for the sake of weird. It just tries to shock for the sake of being shocking. It’s just absurd for the sake of being absurd. It has sausages for the sake of having sausages. It’s written in English for the sake of being written in English. It’s got tiny dancing toasters with boners on every page for the sake of having tiny dancing toasters with boners on every page.

Did I mention that bizarro is weird for the sake of weird? I don’t really know exactly what that means but that’s how I like to dismiss everything that’s too weird for me. Really, I just don’t like weird. If I don’t get it then it’s obviously stupid. If I actually read bizarro I might realize that the weird elements are there to create conflict and build character, therefore serving a purpose. Or maybe sometimes the weird elements are there for the sake of humor or for the sake of evoking emotion or for the sake of making the plot more interesting and entertaining. But I don’t care. I’d much rather just dismiss all bizarro offhand. Basically, I’m just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole.

The “Arrogant Young Writer” Hater

I just graduated from college, so obviously I know everything there is to know about writing. And based on the four paragraphs I’ve read from a single bizarro book, I can assure you that all bizarro fiction is utter garbage. What a bunch of talentless hacks. They don’t even try to imitate Raymond Carver! Where’s the blatantly obvious pseudo-intellectual themes? Where’s the desperate attempts at sophisticated narratives? What are these things called plots and characters that nobody ever actually taught me about in college? I wrote better fiction than these guys when I was three years old!

Until I am recognized as the artistic genius that I know I am, I plan to attack pretty much every writer who has shown any sign of success. Because I deserve their success way more than they do. Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Cormac McCarthy — they’re all a bunch of hacks, too. If only I could get a single story published anywhere at all I would prove to the world how brilliant I am. Unfortunately, all editors are idiots and continue to reject me.

The “Bitter Failed Writer” Hater

I used to be the “Arrogant Young Writer” but now I’m older. You’d think I would have grown out of my pissy attitude over the years, but because I’ve seen little to no success I’ve become the most bitter son of a bitch on the planet. I could have been doing everything it takes to succeed as a writer no matter how much hard work I had to put in, but I’ve been so busy arguing on writer message boards and posting scathing book reviews on goodreads that I haven’t had the time.

I trash pretty much everything that I read because it makes me feel better about myself. But I particularly enjoy trashing bizarro fiction, because it’s an easy target. Maybe I’m not quite the brilliant genius I thought I was when I was Arrogant Young Writer, but I KNOW I’m at least more talented than these bizarro jerkoffs. I mean, they can’t possibly have more talent than I, can they? Many of them write for a living and have fan followings, but their books are about ass goblins and monster cocks. How the hell can that be considered good writing? Even though I can’t sell a story to save my life, I have to be better than these guys, right? Right? Can somebody please just tell me they love me before I put a shotgun in my mouth?

The “Rejected Bizarro” Hater

Hey, I just heard about bizarro this second and think my own work is surely the best bizarro ever written. So can you list me as a top bizarro fiction writer on your website and promote my books for me? I have these amazing books out that I published myself! One is about demons on acid tripping out in a mental institution and the other is about a ghost at a rave on acid and tripping out. So basically it’s the weirdest most original shit you’ve ever heard of.

What? I need to actually go through a submissions process first? I need to actually have a readership and a smidgen of talent? I don’t have the patience for any of that! Fuck you! You’re all a bunch of elitist assholes! I don’t want to be bizarro anymore! Bizarro fiction sucks anyway! Now I’m going to trash bizarro writers up and down all over facebook and 4chan!

The “Ex-Bizarro” Hater

I used to be involved in the bizarro fiction scene and loved the genre to no end. But then my books didn’t sell or weren’t published fast enough and I kept getting into flame wars with other bizarro authors over absolutely nothing. So in order to protect my ego I left the scene in a dramatic exit and now I think bizarro fiction is the stupidest kind of fiction in the world.

These days, I like to go on facebook or random message boards explaining just how lame I think bizarro fiction is. Any time I come across bizarro haters I am quick to agree with them. But then I point out that the bizarro books I wrote are “exceptions” and are actually really good despite being bizarro. However, if I ever come across fans of bizarro I am quick to re-label myself a bizarro fiction writer in order to get them to buy my books. This way I can reap all the benefits of being a bizarro without having to be confined by a label. I wonder if this approach will help me sell more books in the future. I wonder if anyone gives a crap about me one way or the other. I wonder if I would have actually gone far in the bizarro scene if it weren’t for my massive ego and easily discouraged nature…

Pictured above: Mikey P, the original Ex-Bizarro Hater.

35 responses

  1. 3, 4 and 5 can be brought around. As for the others? That dog totally don’t hunt.

    February 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

  2. carltonmellick

    Almost all writers start out as the Arrogant Young Writer. Hell, I was a bit like that guy when I was young. Most people mature and lighten up over time.

    February 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    • kariyad sreekumar

      Ego is evaporating on the passage of time. Death is the ego-less point.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:43 am

  3. 4chan? Flame wars? I feel old…what are these things?

    February 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    • I feel old for realizing how long ago these things were relevant.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    • Internet explorer is wituoht a doubt the single worst browser ever. Whilst the rest of the world adheres to an internationally-recognised standard, Microsoft decide that they know better than the rest of us, and don’t bother sticking to the rules. If I had a pound (or a dollar) for every hour wasted on a project because of IE’s failure to adhere to standards recognised by almost every other browser, I would have retired years ago. Cross-browser compatibility would hardly be an issue if IE was wiped off the face of the earth because just about everyone else plays by he same rules. Its a total f*****g joke.I recently re-installed firefox. It took a few minutes to download and install, and is working perfectly. I recently downloaded Internet Exporer. After informing me that I had to update my system twice (and restart twice) the download took three times as long. After all that, I double-clicked the IE icon and . IE has encountered an unexpected error It crashed. Surprise surprise. Now, when I click for a new tab, the browser fails to open the tab on about 50% of instances, for my protection . I only want a new tab. The IE about page is surely free from viruses?I’ll just add this to my malfunctioning Outlook and an operating system that crashes wituoht warning about once a fortnight. F**k you Microsoft. You cost me more time and money than any other tool I use. It’s disgraceful, and I sincerely hope that open source software puts and end to your evil empire. 9 versions of Internet Explorer and we’re still waiting for cross-browser compatibility. Get a f*****g grip!

      March 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm

  4. And to number #1, I say Cameron motherfucking Pierce, motherfuckers. Saknusemm? Bradley Sands. *cough* Cook….
    And I think my workshops, the Brigade, the NBAS and an emerging micropress Bizarro scene will make #6s as a cranky nemesis a thing of the past. We’re DIY. And if you fucking do it, you will see some modicum of exposure and might be able to go the distance. When rock bands first started getting radio play, garage bands were born. Some of these garage bands were The Doors, The Trashmen, The Kingsmen. Many were not. But it was music people could make and they did it. We’re music people can make. So do it.

    February 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm

  5. carltonmellick

    Garrett – As for #1, I think ALL bizarro fiction has artistic merit in one form or another. The bullshit comes from those who draw a firm line between high art and low art. Most art is a combination of both. Most classics are a combination of both.

    The point is we shouldn’t bother trying to win over the douchebags. They aren’t our readers. These people don’t matter and will likely never accept any bizarro fiction at all. Let them complain all they want.

    February 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    • Good point there. I didn’t mean to say any Bizarro was less literary than any other Bizarro, but that some Bizarro books make more pronounced use of the kind of stylistic and experimental flourishes and tricks that these people call literary when they see them in other books and if these people were reading the right books and knew their asses from their elbows enough to find them, they might rethink their accusations. I don’t see how anybody could read Gerdes’ My Landlady the Lobotomist or Kris Saknusemm’s Private Midnight and say that Bizarro isn’t literature. It pisses me off when people say something is “literary” because of elements that are present in something they call trash. That divide has always bothered me. If something isn’t literary because it’s funny, transgressive or exciting that doesn’t speak very highly of their opinion of literature. I don’t think we should pander to the haters, but I do think some of them hate because they’re misinformed and ignorant and can be won over.

      February 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    • That reminds me of a Nicki Minaj argument I got into with a guy who believed that the only decent music fell in the narrow confines of 70s album rock. The guy even said that Dio was a great vocalist. It was really sad especially since he was so arrogant in his ignorance. He didn’t hear about The Replacements. Or Puccini. Both pretty damn awesome.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm

  6. This was great, fun stuff. I hope to one day have a least one person from each group hating my work.

    February 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

  7. carltonmellick

    Madeleine – you’re probably too young for flame wars and too old for 4chan. I think the term flame wars (aka vicious online arguments) hasn’t been used in at least 5 years. 4chan is a huge online community for hipster 12-year-olds.

    February 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    • I’m in my 30s, I’ve just never been technologically advanced.

      All this makes me feel a bit better about some of the reactions I get on revealing the book one of my stories is in. I’ve told my mum she’s not allowed to read it…

      February 16, 2012 at 2:54 am

  8. Gabino

    Although it lacks in literary merit, this was an awesome post. I laughed hard and then wanted to cry when I realized I had a face and/or name for each of the 7. As for the academics, I think it has to do with fear. They’d rather go over how great Madam Bovary is than have to rethink all they know when faced with writing that throws all they hold sacred out the window and re-invents time, space, science, reality, character development, plot and everything in between. Carlton, you probably don’t remember, but we had a conversation about #3 during the WHC in Austin. In a way, you and Palahniuk have pretty much left those folks without an even remotely valid argument. Last but not least, I wrote this awesome book about a guy who goes to the grocery store after dropping acid. It might sound cliche, but there’s a very bizarro twist: he’s wearing pants made out of squids! You should totally publish it.

    February 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

  9. wikifuckyou

    You missed a couple, like the “don’t fucking let your seven fans spam Wikipedia with your self-published zines masquerading as literary journals” hater. Or the “don’t pretend some shit you came up with when drunk at a con is actually a recognized literary genre” hater. Hell, even the “maybe you should mention that your publisher is also your wife” hater.

    Those are pretty good, too.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

  10. How about “the paranoid schizophrenic Bizarro hater who won’t stop writing your name on bus shelters with a silver Sharpie because he read one of your books and became convinced you put wires inside his wife’s head, causing her to divorce him and elope with members of the surveillance community?”

    February 15, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    • Can I borrow him? I need the publicity more than you guys.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  11. carltonmellick

    wiki – those three kinds of haters don’t bother me at all. I make a living writing the kind of fiction I love, so not much is going to faze me. Those bitter failed writers can sit at their miserable day jobs and cry about it all they want. They have no idea what they are talking about.

    February 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    • kariyad sreekumar

      Mr. Carlton, dont care the critics of your bizarro. Really it is the world of imagination.Your brain is a terribble mine of images. I love it. eventhough i havent read your works , i got the sense of your language. write ,write and write with your spear.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:50 am

  12. Sarah Shaw

    Who’s Mikey P?

    February 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

  13. carltonmellick

    Sarah – no one worth mentioning. I regret bringing him up. He should just remain gone and forgotten.

    February 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm

  14. alanmclark

    That was fun.

    I once had a literary-type tell me it was a shame that a magazine had published my story, that it was sad that it was even possible for a story like mine to be published. It was a waste of publishing space while there were worthy pieces of writing out there looking for homes. She though that was helpful.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm

  15. Excellent post. I write all sorts of things and was asked recently to write some Bizarro. So what is Bizarro I thought. I realised I’d written several stories in the genre, if it is a genre. And maybe that’s why there are these types who object. They want to remain securely stationed in where they feel they belong.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:18 am

  16. carltonmellick

    Alan – that’s pretty harsh. Last I checked it was up to the editor of the publication to decide what was worthy for the publishing space and what wasn’t.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:35 am

  17. carltonmellick

    Gabino – are the squids also on acid? maybe then…

    February 16, 2012 at 1:39 am

  18. Great post. Luckily I haven’t run into any of these people when I’ve been reviewing books or just commenting on forums. Every group or little niche I start feeling like I belong to/with has haters, and usually many within its ranks. This hasn’t been true for me so far with bizarro, everyone is so nice and helpful and just all around awesome.
    I am also interested in what happened to Mikey P.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

    • carltonmellick

      There aren’t many haters within bizarro’s ranks. It’s usually an incredibly strong community compared to most writer scenes.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

  19. Is #7 still talking shit after all these years?

    February 16, 2012 at 8:27 am

    • carltonmellick

      Actually he dropped off the map a few years ago. I think he gave up writing altogether. #7 is just a stereotype and doesn’t completely apply to any one person.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

  20. He keeps a blog where he seems to mostly write about environmental stuff.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

  21. For awhile he ran a journal, if I’m not mistaken, or a recurring anthology. Anyway, loved your write-up, CM3. I’m off to buy #5’s outfit at TJ Maxx and panel the walls of my office with faux wood.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

  22. #1 is the worst. They tend to cross all genres with this type of attitude.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

  23. #6’s want to be my friends but looking for more of a #1 relationship in my life right now.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    The New Bizarro Writer’s Girlfriend.

    So my boyfriend used to want to watch stuff with me and talk and we’d cook dinner together or I dunno, I can’t really remember what we used to do but nowadays all he wants to talk about it Bizarro. I’m like “Hey, what you up to?” and he’s all like “I’m busy! Writing!” and then I’m like “Lets go away together spend some time chilling.” and he’s all like “Oh yeah lets go to Portland, Oregon!” and I’m like “What?? I meant go on a beach holiday and sunbathe and drink cocktails.” and he’s like “No, we’re going to snazzy Portland! I have no further words to say to you…although, have you read my manuscript yet?”

    July 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

  25. Pingback: The 8th Type of Bizarro Fiction Hater |

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