The English Department at San Jose State University sponsors this annual competition, which seeks to identify the opening sentence to “the worst of all possible novels.” There are a number of categories of victors, including those in fantasy, children’s literature, historical fiction, and western. Plus, there’s a top prize, which goes this year to Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, for the following entry:
As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.But if you find that groan-worthy, check out this winner in the crime category, submitted by Sue Fondrie of Appleton, Wisconsin:
She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on ... not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and--just like that cheap paint--the dress needed two more coats to cover her.Perhaps my favorite among the crime-fiction candidates, though, comes from Carl Stich of Mariemont, Ohio, who receives a Dishonorable Mention for this opener:
Inspector Murphy stood up when he saw me, then looked down at the lifeless body, crumpled like a forlorn Snicker’s candy wrapper, and after a knowing glance at Detective Wilson pointed to the darkening crimson pool spreading from the stiff’s shattered noggin, and said, “You settle it, Gibson; does that puddle look more like a duck or a cow?”Click here to read all the winning entries as well as their close rivals.
This contest, which has been held ever since 1982, is of course named after English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who’s infamous for having concocted that oft-mocked opening phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night.”