|Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the man behind the phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night ..." An Ottawa man was given the dishonour of having purple prose. (SUPPLIED)
OTTAWA - A systems analyst at Canada Revenue Agency has been honoured for his intentionally dreadful purple prose.
Guy Foisy loves to write in his spare time. Not for publication usually, he just likes writing for himself, whatever happens to pop into his head.
For the last decade, he has been making annual submissions to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, hoping his talent for over-the-top and impressively cheesy writing would earn him a coveted spot on the list of the worst writers.
Finally, this year, Foisy's talent for terrible writing was recognized with the Purple Prose award.
Foisy said the experience of trying to come up with something that is both clever and ridiculous has helped him improve his writing skills over the years.
It's not difficult to see why the judges moved Foisy's entry to the front of the pack. For one thing, the mood in a story is rarely set by using multiple oral health analogies. And for another, points have to be awarded to anyone who can get away with using the quasi-obscene "blood-engorged" term in the first sentence of a novel.
That's what the contest is all about, authors submit what they see as the most ridiculous opening to a novel. The contest is based on Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's famous opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night."
After a graduate class led by professor Scott Rice from San Jose State University discovered the history behind that classic opening line, the next logical step was to create a contest to see if anyone could top it.
Well, maybe not logical, but certainly hilarious.
"I was really happy, I couldn't sleep," Foisy said of his reaction to hearing he had won one of the contest categories.
As for the ubiquitous dental references, Foisy isn't really sure where that came from.
"I've had a lot of appointments with my dental hygienist, I guess," he said. "She's on me about not flossing enough. But I don't know."
Here is Foisy's winning entry:
"William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring's equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter's plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature's morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife's halitosis."