“It was a dark and stormy night…”

August 16th, 2008 by

The 26th annual Bulwer-Lytton contest is complete and the winner has been announced. But wait, you ask… what is the Bulwer-Lytton contest? From this WAPO article comes the money quote:

“It’s like the Nobel Prize for Literature,” explains 2008 recipient Garrison Spik, whose day job is communications director for Mervis Diamond Importers. “But at the other end of the spectrum. And the prize money is $999,750 less.”

Bulwer-Lytton himself inspired the competition with this infamous opening line to his 1830 novel Paul Clifford:

“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.”


Such horrific writing had to be honored, hence, the annual competition. And this year’s winning entry is one of the best in recent memory:

“Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.’ “

Other winners over the years can be found here. May they serve as non-inspiration to us all!

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