Thursday, March 08, 2007

2006 Bulwer-Lytton Awards

How ever did I manage to miss this? The winners of the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Awards have been announced, and you can read them all right here.

If you're unfamiliar with this highly esteemed literary honor, the award is named for Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who in 1830 achieved literary immortality of a sort by beginning his novel, Paul Clifford, with these unforgettable words:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

In recognition of this remarkable sentence, the English department at San Jose State University each year presents the Bulwer-Lytton Awards, to dishonor those writers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, by emulating Mr. Bulwer-Lytton and producing the truly awful opening lines of otherwise imaginary books.

As you might expect, I gravitate to the entry by Camille Barigar, of Twin Falls, Idaho, whose winning entry in the Fantasy category is as follows:
It was within the great stony nostril of a statue of Landrick the Elfin Vicelord that Frodo's great uncle, Jasper Baggins, happened to stumble upon the enchanted Bag of Holding, not to be confused with the Hag of Bolding, who was quite fond of leeks, most especially in a savory Hobbit knuckle stew.

The only problem is, this sentence is quite a bit better than the openings of many faux-Tolkien novels I've actually read.