[EAS]Bulwer-Lytton Contest

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Tue Oct 1 21:56:25 EDT 2002

Subject:   Bulwer-Lytton Contest

Dear Colleagues -
You've been getting too much serious stuff from me lately, so I
though some light relief might be in order. My colleague Jayne
Miller today reminded me of the Bulwer-Lytton Contest
<http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/> named after a turgid Victorian
novelist. The challenge of the contest is to pen the most atrocious
first line of a novel. Sometimes a novel's _last_ line is asked for,
sometimes a word limit is imposed.
A number of educational institutions now run Bulwer-Lytton contests,
but Prof. Scott Rice at San Jose State
<http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2002.htm> started it all. 
The ten items I received today below don't immediatiately match up
with any yearly contest known to me, may even contain some
apocryphal entries (is that possible?), but are amply in the spirit
of the undertaking and won't make you struggle with any lame Web
typography.  --PJK

                         Bulwer Lytton winners

            These are the 10 winners of this year's Bulwer Lytton
contest, wherein one writes only the first line of a novel.

10) "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break
wind in the sound chamber he would never hear the end of it."
9) "Just beyond the Narrows the river widens."
8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned,
unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep
azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that
vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a
beauty that defied description."
7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he
crept along the east wall: "Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre
6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of
narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back-alley
sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved."
5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not
keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store."
4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but
then penguins often do."
3) "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese,
the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."
2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the
meaning of the word "fear," a man who could laugh in the face of
danger and spit in the eye of death-in short, a moron with suicidal


1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept
along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the
castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat,
crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden
amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's
deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"

And a few more, from elsewhere on the Web, where brevity counted:

"The night passed like a kidney stone: painfully and with the help of
major sedatives."

"Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating."

And, lastly:  
"In 3010, the potatoes triumphed."

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