Some Strange Lines from Serious Fiction Manuscripts


In 1981, a well-known editor based in New York, who wished to remain anonymous, sent several excerpts from unsolicited manuscripts of supposedly serious fiction he received to the National Lampoon. They were published in the section called “From the Slush Pile”:

“Pardon?” she asked in a tone that made me want to wash my hands.

Harold slumped into a chair like slush down a sewer, stunned.

He snorted mentally.

James would have never believed it could happen but six months went by.

I followed her body into the library, first with my eyes, then with my feet.It was well stacked with books.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Little Jr.?” Little Jr.’s father asked, his mouth smelling like a distillery out of the past.

Bob was easy to recognize underwater.

From the moment he crushed Cora’s skull, he knew it was going to be a rotten Monday.

She listened intently, with all her ears.

Insincerity always griveled at her, especially when it surrogated the truth.

He became lost in his scalp, thinking dark thoughts.

“I felt like you and I had something unfinished between us,” she sobbed, “almost like a bridge that was meant to cross a river and then suddenly someone sawed it in half.”

At first glance, she appeared fragile, but her shapely arms below the elbow belied this.

David Manchester was no home body. He like to spend his days standing at the finnish line at the racetrack.

Jane was bored silly with her job as secretary to the editor of a house organ at a paper cup factory.

The minister was short, with meticulously cut short hair, a frail physique, and a quiet rash above his collar.

The bookcase was made of solid walnuts and polished to a high shine.

Her large grey eyes were the window of an unhappy soul which dwelled deep inside her.

The man wore a charcoal-grey three-piece suit and sported a diamond ring on his pinky that Sergeant Miller exaggerated to himself as being the size of a hamburger.

Joannie’s thoughts fell silent.

Onwards down the street he trod, passing all those that passed him.

A girl like Evelyn would stop at nothing to get her name in the footlights.

His eyes fell instantly on Trudy’s black nightgown, which she was occupying.

The sweater was coral and snug, emphasizing her torso’s assets.

My family was very close, having all grown up together.

Catherine awoke in a panic that she was going blind, then she realized that her eyes were shut tight.

It was the first rain the city saw in many months and the streets sounded like someone smashing potato chips.

The judge was so fat he looked like he had about four people under his robe and they were playing bridge sort of to pass the time.

“She’s sensational,” Mike said enthusiastically. “Wait till you see her thick eyelashes and her jet blonde hair.”

An endless succession of baby sweaters came from Geraldine’s knitting needles.

Martin knew that under Jeannie’s thin veneer of outward convention, she was totally naked.

Jonathan was ambitious, a freight train speeding toward a destination, wheels clinging to the track, metal exploding on metal, whistle screaming all the way.

Her wince was almost audible.

She tried desperately to be fair, weighting the question almost as a butcher would a side of beef on a large set of scales.

The blood crashing through my veins abruptly ceased its flow. All was silent now. I was dead.

My hand felt limp and my drink fell to the floor. I was soon to follow.

It was a good thing sweat could not be heard breaking out upon a body.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

11 thoughts on “Some Strange Lines from Serious Fiction Manuscripts

  1. A lot of these read like they’re intentional jokes. “My family was very close, having all grown up together.” seems like something Mark Twain might write. Others… Hmm…
    This was my favorite, “She listened intently, with all her ears.”

    Liked by 1 person

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