“They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white… Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn’t taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently.”
The above is by Ms. Mariann Simms of Wetumpka, Alabama, the winner of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory if not the reputation of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), who has just enjoyed his bicentennial. The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the “Peanuts” beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
The contest began in 1982 as a quiet campus affair, attracting only three submissions. This response being a thunderous success by academic standards, the contest went public the following year and ever since has attracted thousands of annual entries from all over the world.