Puget Sound English Department

June 30, 2009

The Best of the Bad

It was a dark and stormy night...

It was a dark and stormy night...


This year’s Bulwer-Lytton contest winners have been announced, and the bad fiction award recipient lives right in our backyard: Federal Way. The contest is intentionally parodic and calls for opening lines to novels that will, one hopes, never be written. It tends to reward metaphorical excess, coupled with the cataclysmically quotidian.

For those of you blissfully ignorant of Bulwer-Lytton’s oeuvre, it’s perhaps enough to know that he’s the source of the deathless opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” among other gems.

This year’s prize-winning opener:

“Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin’ off Nantucket Sound from the nor’ east and the dogs are howlin’ for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the “Ellie May,” a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin’ and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.”
David McKenzie
Federal Way, WA

Full list of winners and winning entries (including those in adventure, detective, and western genres, runners-up, and “dishonorable mentions”) is at the contest home page.

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1 Comment »

  1. I think I may have gone salmon-fishing on the Ellie May in Westport once.

    Comment by O. — June 30, 2009 @ 4:06 pm


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