On the first night of February, an enthusiastic group of students gathered at the Writing House for the “Burn After Reading” event, dedicated to sharing exceptionally and comically bad writing. Some arrived armed with allegedly ‘terribly written’ texts to read while others simply came ready to listen and laugh.
Students brought texts ranging from a romance novel published by KFC entitled Wings of Desire to tabloid articles about celebrity pregnancies. Aidan Bliss (C’18) brought a CVS receipt, which he read out loud in its entirety.
Morgan Pruett (C’18) compiled various samplings of bad writing from tabloids and passed them around the room in a bowl. Attendees exchanged the article excerpts, picking randomly from the folded up pieces of paper. After unfolding them, they found a piece of writing worthy of the event’s name “burn after reading.” Attendees were encouraged to stand up and read from these pieces of writing.
Gresham Redman (C’20) arrived with a police blotter from his hometown, detailing the story of a man who was arrested at a McDonald’s drive-through. Lucy Wimmer (C’20) read from a teen novel Sk8er Boy, which outlined the story of the romance between a teen and her rebellious boyfriend. It’s difficult not to mention the boyfriend’s ankle-bracelet-wearing brother on house arrest for selling weed.
Attendees and residents of the Writing House sat on cozy couches and pillows around the living room while munching on snacks and drinking tea. From bad romance novels straight off the shelves of the drug store, to a romance novel published by the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, individuals at this event laughed and bonded over the writing.
So, what really constitutes terrible literature? No definitive answer was found at the Writing House that night, but in keeping with the call for “abhorrent literature,” as the poster of the event advertised, attendees of this event were able to experience some truly questionable writing.
Don’t worry: no books were actually burned in the making of this event.