Triumph and tragedy
Friday, July 29th, 2005
Despite being a would-be writer, the owner of a Triumph Spitfire, and the possessor of a certain amount of sexual experience, I can honestly say the following comparison had never occurred to me and, even if it had, I certainly wouldn’t have been moved to commit it to paper:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Microsoft analyst has won an annual contest celebrating bad writing by comparing fixing carburetors to fondling a woman’s breasts.
“As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual,” went Dan McKay’s winning entry in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
McKay, 43, of North Dakota was said by organizers on Thursday to be visiting China “perhaps to escape notoriety for his dubious literary achievement.” He wins $250 (142 pounds).
Fortunately, the competition these days attracts spoof writing that’s meant to be bad. At least, I hope it does.
The California San Jose State University contest challenges entrants to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels and has attracted entries from around the world for 23 years.
It was inspired by 19th century novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” with the now immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
San Jose State English Professor Scott Rice said that judging the contest “is a hoot.”
“By and large the entries are submitted by serious readers who have a notion about what is good and bad writing. That is what is heartening,” Rice said.
Heartening it may be, but after that I shall never grease the nipple on my rod end with an easy mind again…