Friday, August 21, 2015

Bulwer-Lytton, you deserved better

While looking for something else, I stumbled upon the fact that the winner of the unfortunately-named Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest awards for 2015 have been announced.

You can read about it if you want to.

I've already expressed my opinion on this mean (in every sense) tradition:
For years, the winners of the "official" Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have usually written a long, long, self-consciously tedious sentence, with a sudden reversal in the last five words as if the writer simply popped a blood vessel at the wrong moment. They telegraph the joke like a bad prizefighter.
According to Wikipedia:
Writer's Digest described this sentence as "the literary posterchild for bad story starters."[3] On the other hand, the American Book Review ranked it as #22 on its "Best first lines from novels list."[4]

In 2008, the great-great-great-grandson of Bulwer-Lytton, Henry Lytton-Cobbold, participated in a debate in the town of Lytton, British Columbia with Scott Rice, the founder of the International Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Rice accused Bulwer-Lytton of penning "27 novels whose perfervid turgidity I intend to expose, denude, and generally make visible." Lytton-Cobbold defended his ancestor, noting that he had coined many other phrases widely used today such as "the pen is mightier than the sword", "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar", and said it was "rather unfair that Professor Rice decided to name the competition after him for entirely the wrong reasons."[5]
I get it. It's a joke. It's a joke that, like Snoopy's foray into fiction some eleven years or so before Rice started the BLFC in 1982, wears thin pretty quickly once you get tired of drinking in how deliciously low-brow it all is. Think about it: An animated beagle now best-known for having his image on greeting cards and an insurance company blimp got to the punchline a decade earlier. So it's a joke -- just a fairly lame joke.

Still, as someone else once said, people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

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