Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Championing the Cringe-worthy

I’ve written at least a couple of times in the past about the notorious Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Held ever since 1982, this competition is named in honor (or should it be dishonor?) of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the English novelist-playwright who’s remembered best for the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The contest asks writers and aspiring humorists to submit what they think are the worst opening sentences for books that (let’s hope) will never see print.

Among this year’s prize winners are three in the crime-fiction category. This top vote-getter comes from Mark Wisnewski of Flanders, N.J.:
Wearily approaching the murder scene of Jeannie and Quentin Rose and needing to determine if this was the handiwork of the Scented Strangler--who had a twisted affinity for spraying his victims with his signature raspberry cologne--or that of a copycat, burnt-out insomniac detective Sonny Kirkland was sure of one thing: he’d have to stop and smell the Roses.
The runner-up in that same category is Highland Park, N.J., resident Andrew Baker, who sent along this death-row digression:
Five minutes before his scheduled execution, Kip found his thoughts turning to his childhood--all those years ago before he had become a contract killer whose secret weakness was a severe peanut allergy, even back before he lost half of a toe in a gardening accident while doing community service--but especially to Corinne, the pretty girl down the street whom he might have ended up marrying one day if she had only shown him a little more damn respect.
A “dishonorable mention” has also been given for crime fiction, the recipient being Basil McDonnell of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. His submission reads as follows:
The victim was a short man, with a face full of contradictions: amalgam, composite, dental porcelain, with both precious and non-precious metals all competing for space in a mouth that was open, bloody, terrifying, gaping, exposing a clean set of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth, but clearly the object of some very comprehensive dental care, thought Dirk Graply, world-famous womanizer, tough guy, detective, and former dentist.
The full list of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton prize winners and runners-up can be found here. Rules for entering the 2012 competition are here.

(Hat tip to The Little Professor.)

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