The results from the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are in, and writer David McKenzie of Federal Way, Washington has won. He submitted this gem:
“Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin’ off Nantucket Sound from the nor’ east and the dogs are howlin’ for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the “Ellie May,” a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin’ and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.”
Of course, there’s no hint of irony in my identification of McKenzie as a writer. I sincerely believe that in order to compose something that treads so heavily on literary conventions, he must, in his real life, be a competent writer. You can’t intelligently break rules unless you know what they are.
I have to confess that I have moments of feeling sorry for Bulwer-Lytton, a writer whose name is inextricably linked to purple prose. On the other hand, he has something that few other melodramatists achieve: lasting fame. Thanks to Snoopy and the annual Contest, it will always be “a dark and stormy night” in Bulwer-Lytton’s world.