Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bad writing at its finest

It takes a special kind of literary genius to mangle the English language this horribly. Thanks Linda for forwarding the results of the 2008 Bulwar-Lytton Contest!

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
2008 Results

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
Garrison Spik
Washington, D.C.

The winner of 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Garrison Spik (pronounced "speak"), a 41-year-old communications director and writer from Washington, D.C. Hailing from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, he has worked in Tokyo, Bucharest, and Nitro, West Virginia, and cites DEVO, Nathaniel Hawthorne, B horror films, and historiography as major life influences.

Garrison Spik is the 26th grand prize winner of the contest that began at San Jose State University in 1982.

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

You can read other cringe-worthy entries at the Bulwar-Lytton website.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Have a laugh

Two NYTimes articles tickled my funny bone this past Sunday...maybe they'll tickle yours as well.

Mary Roach, author of the macabe, but weirdly fun and fascinating book Stiff, writes a droll review of a new book called Traffic. A subject ripe with comic potential, and Mary Roach totally makes hay with it, exploiting many of the book's fun facts to hilarious effect.
Slow-Moving Vehicle

Traffic jams are not, by and large, caused by flaws in road design but by flaws in human nature. While this is bad news for drivers — there’s not much to be done about human nature — it is good news for readers of Tom Vanderbilt’s new book. “Traffic” is not a dry examination of highway engineering; it’s a surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels. An alternate title for the book might be “Idiots.” (Link to article.)
The second article that gave me a chuckle explores the disease gout and its literary connections. The last paragraph is priceless.
My Literary Malady
So, it has come to this. It’s official. My doctor has confirmed what I had suspected for some time, that despite some “nonstandard presentation” and my solid belief that this sort of thing happens only to other people, I have gout. I am a member of that shadowy, shameful group, the “gout community.” (Link to article.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Talk about convenient, finish one book and then grab another from your chair's armrest. Cool!

Picture "borrowed" from BookDaddy blog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

NYTimes: R U Really Reading?

There's a heated debate among educators, academics, and others about how literacy is evolving in our digital age. They are trying to determine if and how people's reading ability and comprehension (not to mention our thought processes) are adapting to the nearly constant distractions of text messages, blogs, cell phones, YouTube videos, etc. This long, but very interesting New York Times article explores the issue from several vantages...and to my mind, is a bit more positive than other articles I've read.
Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

...As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.

But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.

Even accomplished book readers like Zachary Sims, 18, of Old Greenwich, Conn., crave the ability to quickly find different points of view on a subject and converse with others online. Some children with dyslexia or other learning difficulties, like Hunter Gaudet, 16, of Somers, Conn., have found it far more comfortable to search and read online. (Link to entire article.)

Readers Roundtable Meeting: Saturday, August 1

We're meeting tomorrow to discuss Madhur Jaffrey's memoir Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India.

Since much of the book revels in the flavors and aromas of India, we're having a potluck, featuring food from India. A couple people have indicated that they'll attempt to prepare a recipe or two from the back of the book, while others said they may pick up something from an Indian restaurant.

I'm going to get an assortment of appetizers and breads from Favorite Indian Restaurant, located in Hayward. So, there should be enough food for everyone to enjoy at least a taste of India.

Feel free to bring an Indian dish if you like...or not. This is an OPTIONAL potluck. So, if you just show up with critical insights into the book and a healthy appetite, that's perfectly fine.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.