When bad writing is really good

For too long have the great and the gifted authors ruled over the world of literature. It is surely unconstitutional that perfect prose continues to be rewarded with critical acclaim. And I am seriously over deft characterisation and powerful plots led to prestigious prizes. 

Today, we pay homage to really, really bad writing. Congratulations to Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, who was today announced the winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, with this gem.

“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.”

Not that the judges had an easy time of it. Cathy faced challenges from hundreds of other entries like this from Californian David Pepper who won the Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award.

“As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and faeces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows.”

And this from Greg Homer (who took out the prize in the Adventure section): “The stifling atmosphere inside the Pink Dolphin Bar in the upper Amazon Basin carried barely enough oxygen for a man to survive – humid and thick the air was and full of little flying bugs, making the simple act of breathing like trying to suck hot Campbell’s Bean and Bacon soup through a paper straw.”

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was set up to honour the memory of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who penned this actual first paragraph of his novel Paul Clifford in 1830: “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.”

It’s hard to argue with genius. However bad. 

“Their love began as a tailor, quickly measuring the nooks and crannies of their personalities, but it soon became the seamstress of subterfuge, each of them aware of the others lingual haberdashery: Mindy trying to create a perfectly suited garment to display in public and Stan only concerned with the inseam.” D. M. Dunn, Bloomington, America.

“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?” Carl Stich, Ohio.

“Many years have passed since the events related here, but I remember them almost as well as if I had really been there, because I think about them frequently, turning them over and over in my mind, changing the facts to make me into more of a hero than I actually might have been, had I been there to do half the things I claim I did.” Thor Carden, Tennessee.

For even more really good bad writing check out the website http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2012win.html.

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