A California woman who spends her spare time crafting slogans for lapel buttons has won the 2002 Bulwer-Lytton bad writing award for a piece which compared a faltering relationship to a balky roll of toilet paper.
Rephah Berg, of Oakland, California, beat out thousands of other entries in the contest run by San Jose State University, which for 21 years has been soliciting examples of exceptionally bad starts to imaginary novels, organizers said.
The contest, which carries a modest $250 cash award, is named after Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel began with the immortal words “It was a dark and stormy night…”
Berg’s submission, one of ten she sent in this year, reads as follows:
“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.”
The Bulwer-Lytton awards, which were officially announced Monday, featured separate prizes for a number of writing categories including detective, science fiction, adventure and children’s literature.