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Readings for a dark and stormy night

27 July 2011

It is a dark and stormy night: the rain falls in torrents — except at occasional intervals (for it is in Mazatlán where I post, and it is rainy season… and, being night, it is dark). A perfect time to peruse this year’s winners of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Awards.  Sponsored by the San Jose State University English Department, the awards  honor of the author of the 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, the opening sentence of which is a classic, of sorts:

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.

Since 1982, the Edward Bulwar-Lytton Fiction Award has sought to foster interest in great bad writing, sponsoring a  “literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

Having somehow to work mention of this prestigious literary event into the Mex Files, meaning somehow finding something Mex to do with it, let me quote Chris Kemp of Annapolis, Maryland who earned a “Dishonorable Mention” (for Romance writing)… for an opening that not only is really great bad writing, but bad writing that manages to put a Mexican into a mangled metaphor of breath-taking atrociousness.  To wit:

She gazed smolderingly at the mysterious rider, his body cloaked in enough shining black leather to outfit an Italian furniture store, wrapped so tightly each muscle stood out like a flamboyant Mexican hairdresser at an Alabamian monster truck rally; and he met her gaze with an intensity that couldn’t have been matched by even a starving junkyard dog in the meat aisle of a suburban supermarket.

It gets worse… much worse.

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