Reading Rogue: On a related note...

>> Thursday, December 03, 2009

On a related note, Slate recently ran a "Write Like Sarah Palin" contest, and posted the winners today. It's possibly worth a look, though I'll tell you that while there are a handful of very good runners-up, the top three winning entries aren't very good parodies of the Going Rogue style and won't really give you the flavor of Mrs. Palin's writing.

They're entertaining, and funny, but they're also just too wordy in the wrong way--the writers were clearly going for Bulwer-Lyttonesque clumsiness of phrase when a Palinesque clumsiness is just as badly written, but more succinct. Mrs. Palin's not really one for run-on sentences.

Edward Dixon's runner-up entry, however, suggests the poor man may also be reading the book on a bet:

The campaign path once led me into the homey kitchen of June Asbel, where the aroma of toasted almonds and nutmeg mixed with a sense of American perseverance and optimism.

That, my friends, is absolutely Palinesque. It's short, simple, and meaningless, with a bizarre mix of concrete and abstract imagery, and it wanders like an aimless toddler from being a sentence about visiting somebody into a blandly patriotic nothing. Mr. Dixon, if you ever see this: had I been judging the Slate contest, this would have been a serious contender for first place.

As would this runner-up from Benjamin S. Buckland:

Willow at my side, we squeezed among the smiling folks to watch the race, the sitka spruce shaking off its winter dress of snow as the dogs whipped by; they go so fast, so impatient—that's the way I am, I smiled to myself, impatient with politics.

Points off for the semicolon--I'm trying to remember if I've seen a single one in Going Rogue; Mrs. Palin probably would have written something like that as two separate sentences. But the beauty queen-esque false self-deprecation ("my problem is that I'm so good!") is pure Palin gold.

Finally (I'm picking my own top three here), Mary Daniel's submission is worthy albeit wordy for a Palinism:

Nothing inspired me more on the campaign trail than the metaphoric people who tended it—the mighty logger who cleared the brush, the farmer who planted rows of golden corn alongside it, the hunters in the misty distance who kept the wildlife at bay—all hardworking, loyal Americans who, woven together like the fabric of our flag, shone a light that illuminated the darkest shadows on that harrowing trail.

...but the biggest problem with it is "metaphoric people." Mrs. Palin would refer to all these metaphors as actual people, possibly giving them "Joe The Plumber"-ish identities, like "Tim The Logger," f'r'instance. Metaphors are for stuffy liberal elitists who are out of touch with the common-sense politics of ordinary small-town Americans.

Anyway, those three are the people I would have given the prizes to if I judged Slate's contest, but I wasn't a judge so really this is all pretty pointless. Still, it sort of ties into the "Reading Rogue" project and I sort of figure somebody might ask me if I've seen the Slate contest and what I thought about it, so there it is.


Janiece Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 6:23:00 PM EST  

Eric, you're just looking for handy excuses not to continue your reading until your BAC is sufficiently high.

Chop, chop, my friend.

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