Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bullwer-Lytton

I'm back, not that I've gone anywhere exciting, mind you, just routine training is all.

What is exciting - well at long last my literary skills have been recognized. I've won the Bullwer-Lytton prize for (drum roll please...) writing the most atrocious possible opening sentence for a romance novel. Yes, it's true. I had hoped for the Nobel Prize in literature, or at least Hugo or the Pullitzer, but hey, I'll take what I can get. I hasten to point out that I didn't write an entire bad romance novel, just the opening line. Bullwer-Lytton himself was the nineteenth century novelist who gave us Snoopy's famous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night." The full text of that line goes on at some weary and awkward length, and it has been synonymous with bad writing for fifty years at least - twenty-eight of them officially recognized by the Bullwer-Lytton contest for bad opening lines. Ironically, Bulwer-Lytton himself won the Cambridge Chancellor's Gold Medal for English verse and made himself a large fortune with his many novels. He gave us such household phrases as "The pen is mightier than the sword," and "pursuit of the almighty dollar," and "the great unwashed masses." However writing is a thing of style and styles change. Show up for work in high Victorian fashion and you will be criticized for poor dressing. Anyone who's read Charles Dickens, Herman Melville or even Shakespeare will atest, brevity was not always the soul of telling a fast paced, exciting story that kept the reader on the edge of their seat. Poor old BL is now mostly remembered for the long winded and stilted phraseology that nowadays you can only find in a political debate. And of course the Bulwer-Lytton contest for truly abysmal opening lines.

And so, forwith and herefore, my prize-winning line.

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"Trent, I love you," Fiona murmered, and her nostrils flared at the faint trace of her lover's masculine scent, sending her heart racing and her mind dreaming of the life they would live together, alternating sumptuous world cruises with long, romantic interludes in the mansion on his private island, alone together except for the maids, the cook, the butler, and Dirk and Rafael, the hard-bodied pool boys."
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There it is. The irony is, that I have received more media attention for writing this line of awful prose than I got for being the first to figure out why the shuttle Columbia crashed.* CBC, CTV, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, the Edmonton Journal, the Halifax Herald and a bunch of other major outlets ran stories. I was on Canada AM last week to read the now-famous line live on national TV. I got four minutes on-air, so I suppose if everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame I've got eleven minutes left. I'm willing to go with that. I don't mind if two hundred years from now they name a bad writing contest after me, if it means that today I'm on Bulwer-Lytton's track to literary fame and fortune.

Or at least fortune. Fame, as it turns out, isn't what I expected. I thought Canada AM would have a snazzy, hi-tech studio in downtown Toronto, but no, it's way out in Markham and it's down in the basement with more of a techno-grunge flavour. I did get to chat with an interesting sports analyst though, and they did treat me very well. Plus I got a huge Canada AM cup. Not bad, but certainly a lot fewer paparazzi than I thought my newfound celebrity would bring.

Cheers all!

Paul



*What, you didn't know that I did that? I did. NASA used my work in their final report too, though they didn't give me credit for it. I suppose it would have embarrassing for the world's premier space agency to admit they got scooped by a Canadian graduate student working with a photo they had already dismissed as containing no useful information. However I did get a mention in the San Francisco Chronicle.



Latest five blogs:

Bullwer-Lytton
7/17/2010


The unnofficial army watch
2/20/2010


Finding the water
2/3/2010


All beach, no water
1/16/2010


All beach and no water.
1/4/2010




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