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Friday, July 29, 2005

Excruciating Writing

~ Bulwer-Lytton 2005 ~

Here's where my readership rockets as I do my annual service to literature and report the triumphant winners of Bulwer-Lytton 2005.

This international literary parody contest honors the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton by challenging writers to deliver a truly naff opening sentence to an imaginary novel.

The point is to rival Bulwer-Lytton's own opening of his novel, "Paul Clifford", the much mocked and Snoopy-plagiarized, "It was a dark and stormy night."

This year's Winner is Dan McKay of Fargo, ND, with

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual."

Runner-Up: Mitsy Rae of Danbury, NE, with

"When Detective Riggs was called to investigate the theft of a trainload of Native American fish broth concentrate bound for market, he solved the case almost immediately, being that the trail of clues led straight to the trainmaster, who had both the locomotive and the Hopi tuna tea."

Grand Panjandrum's Special Award goes to Ken Aclin of Shreveport,

"India, that hangs like a wet washcloth from the towel rack of Asia, presented itself to Tex as he landed in Delhi (or was it Bombay?), as if it mattered because Tex finally had an idea to make his mark and fortune and that idea was a chain of steak houses to serve the millions and he wondered, as he deplaned down the steep, shiny, steel steps, why no one had thought of it before."

Read the full list yourself, but here are some that caught my eye.

I always like each year's Fantasy Fiction winners and Kevin Craver doesn't let me down with:

"Why does every task in the Realm of Zithanor have to be a quest?" Baldak of Erthorn, handyman to the Great Wizard Zarthon, asked rhetorically as he began his journey began to find the Holy Hammer of Taloria and the Sacred Nail of Ikthillia so Baldak could hang one of Zarthon's mediocre watercolors, which was an art critique Baldak kept to himself unlike his predecessor, whom Zarthon turned into the Picture Frame of Torathank."

I knew *exactly* whence cometh Kristin Harbruck with her Purple Prose Runner-Up,

"She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind -- not a calm and predictable billows like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap."
Gordon Grant's Purply Dishonorable Mention was *much* too close to what I come up with when I really try for my serious literate best:
"The golden-haired dawn curled back the fading face of night in a perpetual coiffure like an Ace comb in God's hand parting the day, making pompadours of mountains, crew cuts of Kansas wheat fields, and trendy cuts of the oceans' rolling waves."

No way should Science Fiction have been won by *that* feeble entry and boo hiss the judges there.

For sheer shaggy-dog sentence silliness, I couldn't stop my mouth from stretching at Vancouver WA's Harvey McCluskey's Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention for

Derwin Thoryndike vowed to place a 14-carat engagement ring on the finger of Glenda-Sue Ellington, so now all he had to do was save up enough money to buy the ring, get it inscribed, and then locate a person named Glenda-Sue Ellington and convince her to marry him.

Happy awful reading ... and if you get bored with the Bulwers, there's always the Bad Sex scribbling.


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