Prizes for great writing are contentious. (Need we even go into Borges's lack of Nobel Prize? Or the awarding of one to Knut Hamsun, a fine novelist but unrepentant Nazi?) While the field for bad-writing prizes is just budding, the controversies are hardly less heated. This year's top award for wretched prose, the Bulwer-Lytton prize, went to Molly Ringle for this gem:
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.
But can we really call it the worst? Some of the also-ran entries are, to the prose-addicted eyes of the Atlantic Wire, worse. Which is to say, better. Take the runner-up from the Detective category:
As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, "Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead."
Gawker writer Richard Lawson tried to do the Bulwer-Lyttons one better, asking readers to try to outdo "the worst sentence in America." Jen Doll of the Village Voice found contenders from the day's news. (Her example: "Starbucks is serving chicken.") Here's the winner/loser of Lawson's contest--judge among the entrants yourself:
Noontime yesterday--or thereabouts--a rather mild diurne, if we do say so, considering the surrounding ones of oppressive heat and death, surely, of the elderly and probably, or possibly, more accurately, since we are not in possession of the statistics, stray cats--the pregnant ones, anyways, in their gravid multitudes--one Hamilton Nolan of The Gawker, at best a filthy truck stop plied by lousy (literally) goldbrickers and meth whores on the information superhighway--wrote of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, likening the announcement of its winner to a "bullhorn fart," or some such; lovelily enough, the competition is such that, but of course, The Gawker must--must--must--must!--feel compelled in cascading waterfalls of inexorability to publish a second dissertation on the results of said striving, this time implying that the fix was in, for easily, verily, a much worse sentence a man (or woman) could indite.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.