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Detective Spoof Wins Bad-Writing Prize

LOS ANGELES – An opening sentence containing a burrito, an angel and a shovel was judged appalling enough to win the annual Bulwer-Lytton literary parody prize Tuesday.

Retired mechanical designer Jim Guigli of California was proclaimed winner of the contest, which challenges entrants to submit their worst opening sentence of an imaginary novel.

Guigli’s winning entry read: “Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you’ve had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.”

Guigli’s powers of invention and his determination to succeed — he submitted 60 different entries — also won him a “dishonorable mention” in the historical fiction category.

“My motivation for entering the contest was to find a constructive outlet for my dementia,” Guigli quipped.

The Bulwer-Lytton [pictured] fiction contest was started in 1982 by the English Department at San Jose State University to honor the Victorian novelist who opened his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” with what were to become the immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

It began as a quiet campus affair and now attracts thousands of entries from around the world. But the grand prize winner receives only a pittance and other winners “must content themselves with becoming household names”, organizers say.

The 2006 runner-up, Stuart Vasepuru from Scotland, played with one of the most famous pieces of dialogue from the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry”.

“I know what you’re thinking, punk,” hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, “you’re thinking, ‘Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?’ — and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel loquacious?’ — well do you, punk?”

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