A Microsoft employee has won the Oscar of bad prose – and no, he isn’t even a weblogger.
Every year the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest honors the best attempts to parody bad fiction. It’s judged by Professor Scott Rice at San Jose State University in California, and is now in its 22nd year.
It’s an impressive achievement, as the bar has been pushed ever higher over the years. For example, it’s hard to imagine anyone topping 2002’s winning submission from Rephah Berg:
On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained.
But step forward Dan McKay, an employee of Microsoft Great Plains, who wins the $250 for his send-up of rotten prose. McKay fended off some impressive competition, for example this, from Kristin Harbuck:
She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind – not a calm and predictable billows like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap.
Or this, from Jere Hudson who was the runner-up in the 2005 Romance category:
“Oh my God!” Amber whispered as the compressor throbbed to life, shuddered rhythmically towards its inevitable conclusion, and shot ninety pounds of sultry air through custom-bored, cold-drawn, boss-lock-fitted crimp-couplings as Chuck Key glanced up with a smile that only tire shop guys can smile.
And Nancy Lee can count herself unlucky for this homage to the bodice-ripping category, which is a classic of its kind:
She was standing weepily at her father’s grave in the old family cemetery, where the ancient headstones tipped and tumbled like a flock of spring lambs, when she raised her weary eyes to see a shirtless man, his mighty thighs clutching the loins of a raging steed whose breath came hot as a desert wind, and made a mental note to get her hairdryer repaired.
Readers who fancy their hand at prose parody, pay attention! We have snagged three copies of Verity Stob’s collected works to give away as a prize. In the meantime, brush up on your modern management textboooks: a working knowledge of the prose of gurus such as Tom Peters and Mark Hurd will be an advantage.