The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure

A signal event of literary scholarship, The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure compiles the biographies of history’s most notable cases of a complete lack of literary success. As such, it is the world’s leading authority on the subject.

Compiled in one volume by C. D. Rose, a well-educated person universally acknowledged in parts of England as the world’s pre-eminent expert on inexpert writers, the book culls its information from lost or otherwise ignored archives scattered around the globe, as well as the occasional dustbin.

The dictionary amounts to a monumental accomplishment: the definitive appreciation of history’s least accomplished writers. Thus immortalized beyond deserving and rescued from hard-earned obscurity, the authors presented in this historic volume comprise a who’s who of the talentless and deluded, their stories timeless litanies of abject psychosis, misapplication, and delinquency.

It is, in short, a treasure.

C. D. ROSE was born in Manchester at the tail end of the 1960s. Since then, he has lived and worked in half a dozen different countries, but now resides in Norwich, in the east of England, where he went to do an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, six years ago. His story “Arkady who couldn’t see and Artem who couldn’t hear” was listed for the 16:23:42/EFG Bank award (the world’s richest short story prize) in 2013, and he has been published in Granta. Ironically, a work about failure has turned out to be his greatest success.

A Best Gift Book of the Year in the Guardian (UK)

“Invaluable … Rose writes with wit, playfulness and an impressive knowledge… Rose himself is an author to reckon with, one whom Borges and Max Beerbohm would have admired… We haven’t heard the last of C.D. Rose.”
Michael DirdaWashington Post

“Nuanced… Mr. Rose is an appealing crank…. Though the vignettes are fictional, most are entertaining and all could serve as warnings to anyone thinking of taking up the literary life.”
Wall Street Journal

“An anthology that cleverly calls out the ways in which we dramatize—and idolize—the lives of authors, successful and not.”
Huffington Post

“This selection may appear to break the rules, but this hilarious ’dictionary’ of literary may not be as non-fictional as you think. It helped inspire my new favorite life-negating maxim: fail worse and go out on bottom.”
Flavorwire, 50 Best Independent Fiction and Poetry Books of 2014

“Humorous, high-toned and absurd… It’s a fun book.”
Dallas Morning News

“Spend an hour with it…for a bracing, mordant reminder of why almost nothing is really worth bothering with.”
Paris Review, Staff Picks

“A mesmerizing and hilarious little book.”

“Wonderful… A must read.”

“A big success.”
Daily Beast

One of Liberty Hardy’s (RiverRun Bookstore) Must-Read Books from Indie Presses for 2014, on Book Riot

“A funny and smart and engaging read.”
Brooklyn Magazine

“This gloriously delicious testament to efforts of the wordy kind that seem to have gone off the rails offers the literary shenanigans of some rather suspect authors.”

“[A] delightful compendium… The BDLF is a clever put-on, a brisk stroll…guided by Rose’s fastidious prose and copious literary references, but it is also a clarion for the infinite possibilities of literature.”
Failure Magazine

“A delightful account… Genius.”
Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

“This lovely brown book presents insights into 52 literary failures … collected by C D Rose and retold with both care and wit. Every single one made me laugh, and I don’t just mean with schadenfreude or a dry resigned croak at the common fate of so many writers. As unlikely as it sounds, I found this book immensely cheering.” —Mind and Language blog

“My personal favourite in this genre has to be The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure… A glorious alphabetical compendium of those who never achieved greatness.”
Stuart Kelly, Books of the Year, The Scotsman (UK)

“More a short story collection than a dictionary, this book is an homage to the many ways writers can fail… Failure. Of the most spectacular kind.”

“Offers us a shadow history of literature… Whether the subject is Icarus-like or more of a Walter Mitty, Rose’s writing is unfailingly sympathetic and inventive.”
Workshy Fop

“A page turner of the best sort of slow motion, train wreck sort of way… Give this petite compendium a read!”
Susan Mulder, Rejection Chronicles

“A series of clever (and occasionally hilarious) literary vignettes… Rose makes highly literate and arcane references to a vast number of authors and literary theoreticians, and it’s great fun for the reader to become part of the game.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Taking long-form comedy to brave new heights… Rose well utilizes that trick good writers have of including readers and making them feel smart.”
Library Journal

“Tongue is definitely in cheek here… Each [writer] fail[s] better than the one before.”

“A wonderful book. At long last someone has invented these failures and given them their due. We owe C. D. Rose an incalculable debt.”
Steve Hely, author of How I Became A Famous Novelist

“A funny look at literary legends who, for one reason or another, managed to fall into oblivion (or fail to get noticed in the first place). From authors leaving masterpieces on trains, to those who compulsively–and literally–eat their words, this book will get you thinking about losses to literature that we’ll never get to hear about. Just don’t eat this book, please. Or, if you must, buy another copy afterwards… and restrain yourself from eating that one, too.”
Jen Campbell, author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops and The Bookshop Book