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Very Bad Things


August is usually a deathly slow news month, but thus far it’s already being filled with senatorial infidelity, a steady stream of Olympians, and an all-out war. All of which means that we’ve missed out on the important filler stories that usually fill up this wonderful month.

For instance, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, named for the author of the infamous first sentence, “it was a dark and stormy night.”

Each year, the judges choose the worst opening sentence to a novel and present it to the world, relieving the crushing burden of finding something to report in the middle of August. Of course, this year, as the judges note, “it appears that many newspapers have allowed themselves to be distracted by a large athletic contest being staged somewhere in Asia.”


This time around, the winning sentence reminds us of a certain strain of New York novel particularly popular in the wake of the inestimable Bright Lights, Big City. Ah, the city. Drink it in:

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."

See the full list of runner ups here.