Thus began Paul Clifford, a novel almost no-one remembers - but that opening is one that everyone recognizes. Edward Bulwer-Lytton is spinning fast enough to power a small city after what's been made of a novel that is not really that bad when you consider that it was published in 1830, and preferences have changed a lot since then.
Of course, that's not what I'm posting about. No, I'm posting about the "winners" of the 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Awards, this year's celebration of the overblown, bad, and truly bizarre opening sentence. Slush readers take heart - no, not from the authors in the slush pile, and not while they're still breathing - Bulwer-Lytton Award winners and dishonorable mentions are intentionally bad.
The bad can be as instructive as the good, and here we have the gloriously appalling, with plunges into bathos that rival the cleavage of an EE cup, puns that would make even Dave Freer blush, and run on sentences that meander around for a while before finally getting lost, or in at least one case, disappearing up its own virtual fundamental orifice.
So, go take a look at the winners, then come back here, and add your own Bulwer-Lytton-esque offerings.
To start the fun:
The circumstances of my birth are shrouded in mystery even to me, for though I may assume I have, or had, a mother and a father, I have never known either, nor wished to, for I was abandoned outside a Copenhagen perfumery, left in a discarded crate still heavily scented with the oil it had once held, thus forever sealing my fate as the little myrrh maid of Copenhagen.