Bulwer-Lytton 2014

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on August 10, 2014














It was an overcast saturday morning. The good vibes of the cool morning more than made up for the lack of sunshine. PG made the yard sale run, found an autobiography of Jane Fonda, and said he might be back later to negotiate other items. He didn’t go back.

Returning home, PG saw the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton winners on the innertubes. These were copied into a document, and transferred to the laptop. A pot of coffee was made. The operation moved to the plastic table in the backyard. Life is good.

The wifi connection here is weak. This eliminates the temptation to check in on facebook and twitter. Real progress is possible in a world without interruptions. Like yesterday, when the man in the next cubicle said “how would you like to hear my most embarrassing story from junior high?”

Chamblee54 has written about the BW contest in 2010, 2012, and 2013. There is no telling what went on in August 2011. Here is a description of the contest.

To paraphrase Ru Paul, the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest is. A function of the english department of San Jose State University, in California, the contest awards “a pittance” to the winner. The idea is to submit the opening sentence to a horrible novel, and give the winner to the worst of the worst, the scum of the the skimmer, the Milhous of the Nixon. Email entries are accepted, preferably in Arial 12.

The award is named for Edward Bulwer-Lytton . Mr. B-L was the model for Monty Python’s English Upper Class Twit. The opening words of his novel “Paul Clifford” are “It was a dark and stormy night”. Entrants in the contest are discouraged from saying ” It was a stark and dorky night”.

So the BW plot continues. No, bitchy waiter, this means Bulwer-Lytton. The first run through is to read everything, and make a note of the ones that might be post worthy. Or anyone from Georgia, no matter how indifferent the prose is.Alas, no one from the peach state made the cut. It doesn’t have to be purple prose … chartreuse, magenta, mauve, or taupe work very well. Fifty Shades of Teal probably would not have been as popular. Sometimes you can be too creative.

A value added feature of the chamblee54/Bulwer-Lytton partnership involves the names of writers. While PG is reading the entries, he makes a list of amusing names. This has nothing the do with the quality, or lack of same, in the written entries. The 2014 Best Bulwer-Lytton Contest Names are: Amelia Kynaston, Las Vegas NV, Cat Clerkin, Greensboro NC, Clark Snodgrass, Huntington Beach CA, Damian Alabakoff, Vancouver WA, Eva Niessner, Cockeysville MD, Jim Biggie, Melrose MA, John Holmes, St. Petersburg FL, Karen Arutunoff, Tulsa OK, Kelben Graf, Milwaukie OR, Kevin Hogg, Cranbrook BC, Shalom Chung, Hong Kong, Talha bin Hamid, Karachi, Pakistan, Terri Meeker, Nixa MO, Wendy White Lees, Ho-Ho-Kus NJ, Zachary Bezemek, West Bloomfield MI

After copying the best names from the BW site, Shalom Chung was chosen as the winner. PG was going to give him/her a pass, based hilarity of the handle, but the Hongkonger made the cut with terrible writing…
His ex-wife’s personality was like chocolate – not the smoky, tangy, exquisitely rich and full-bodied type, but the over-sweet, tooth-cracking, factory-processed, made-with-vegetable-oil kind that leaves one with diabetes and an aneurysm the size of a grape. — Shalom Chung, Hong Kong
Then there two entries, in a row, about Lizzie Borden. …
With her interest in dime-store cowboy novels finally fading and Christmas just days away, little Lizzy Borden sat quietly in the corner and crossed “tomahawk” off her Christmas list, writing instead the word AXE, carefully in her best penmanship, which made her mother and father so proud. — Frank McWilliams, Telford PA … It was a bright and cloudless day, as young Lizzie hummed a cheerful tune to herself, whilst drying and replacing the last knife on its hook, and reminiscing how Mother and Father Borden (lying bleeding in their respective pools of blood upstairs) had been so inappropriately cross with her, such a short while ago. — Carl Turney, Bayswater, Victoria, Australia Christmas was coming. Lizzie Borden needed something to cut away deadwood. What to ax for?
The contest winner got a few extra entries posted. Maybe this person is dating the proprietor of the contest. One of these supplemental offerings deserves further comment…
Gerald Raisonette, whose perhaps foreseeable fate it was to be pelted by candies of a similar name throughout his childhood, eventually avoiding the cinema entirely, claimed towards the end of his life that he had taken a photograph of his soul, which appeared in fact to resemble a dried grape, but there were of course doubters and the expected snickers. … When Gerald does pass away, he will go to raisin hell.
Ok Ok. The battery symbol is showing more gray by the minute, the life giving blue base shrinking all the time. The list of BW entries is finally scrutinized. The standards got more rigorous as the bottom of the list got nearer. There is a collection of further entries by the winner, which just doesn’t seem fair. The editor is tired of coffee, and made the inevitable switch to water. It is time to go inside.

There will be more quotes from this contest. This post is enough for one day. PG is working five days a week, and needs all the content shortcuts he can get. Pictures for today’s misadventure are from The Library of Congress. They are early color photographs, from the Farm Service Administration.















5 Responses

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  1. […] is protest. Maybe someone needs to protest this abuse of the english language. Yesterday was the overview.. Today is the first part of contest selections. If you go to the contest page, you can see all the […]

  2. […] is part three of the chamblee54 exhibition of the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Parts one, and two, were previously published. There will be a part three, sometime. The writers will be […]

  3. […] and final, report on the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton fiction writing contest, at least for 2014. Parts one, two, and three were previously published. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. Dr. Fulton […]

  4. […] submit a first sentence, to a terrible novel. Chamblee54 wrote about BLFC in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The *winner,* and one other featured player, establish a new category this year: the […]

  5. […] submit a first sentence, to a terrible novel. Chamblee54 wrote about BLFC in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Part two of 2017 is forthcoming. As a value added service to the BLFC community, […]

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