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bLink 24

Celebrating the worst writing winners.

By Thom Wong 16 Feb 2006 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong writes regularly about music for The Tyee. He has also been a teacher and contract specialist. With eight years of education and three bachelor degree, Thom focuses mostly on marketing writing.

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A few of my friends have a deep fondness for very bad movies. It's a combination of being drawn to abominations and being fascinated that so much money could produce such a terrible product. I feel the same way about bad novels: how could anyone write that poorly for that length of time? (Hence my column clocking in at under 400 words. Natch.)

My movie friends have it easier. Because of the context of film production -- cost, number of people involved, low demand on the viewer's faculties -- even the very worst movies ever made are, on some level, at least watchable. A bad novel -- say, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen -- defies you to read it. I could pick it up a million times and never, ever finish it. (I don't believe a single positive reviewer of that book: none of you have read it cover to cover. Not even you, Oprah.)

The Bulwer-Lytton competition is tailor-made for people like me, the lovers of bad literature with really short attention spans. Named after the "It was a dark and stormy night" originator, the contest invites would-be Lyttonites from around the globe to pen the worst opening sentence in a variety of categories. The results are hilarious and act as stinging reminders of the excesses of which all people who put pen to paper can be guilty.

Last year's winners include this opening salvo in the adventure category:

"Captain Burton stood at the bow of his massive sailing ship, his weathered face resembling improperly cured leather that wouldn't even be used to make a coat or something."

(As for the worst movie of all time, many people point to Manos, the Hands of Fate. In my opinion, it's Canadian Bacon, hands down.)

Thom Wong is a law student who spends an unreasonable amount of time online. His 40 bLinks column runs every Monday and Thursday on The Tyee.

What's he all about? Click here.

For previous 40 bLinks, click here.  [Tyee]

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