Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Can it be that another year has passed? 

Well, it has, and the results of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been posted.

For the benefit of those of you who are new to this scrumptious literary novelty, allow me to explain.

Each year the English department at San Jose State University sponsors the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a writing competition which pays homage to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the man responsible for one of the hackiest opening lines in literature: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

The idea is to create an awful opening line for a fake work of fiction.

This year’s overall winner was University of Wisconsin Oshkosh professor Sue Fondrie, who submitted the following: “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Notably, it is the shortest winner in the contest’s 29 year history.

Click the link above to read all of the winning … and losing, groan-inducing entires.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Man Booker Prize 2011 Long-list Announced

The longlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction - the ‘Man Booker Dozen' - was announced today. It includes four first time novelists.

The chosen are;

Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
Sebastian Barry On Canaan's Side (Faber)
Carol Birch Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail - Profile)
Yvvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger's Child (Picador - Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor Derby Day (Chatto & Windus - Random House)

The titles were chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by author and former Director-General of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington.
A total of one hundred thirty eight books were submitted, seven of which were called in by the judges, to be considered for the ‘Man Booker Dozen' long list. 

The four first time novelists on the list are Stephen Kelman, A.D. Miller, Yvvette Edwards and Patrick McGuinness. 
The list also includes three publishers new to the prize: Oneworld, Sandstone Press and Seren Books.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Play For Pay: Harry Potter & The Hypocrisy of the Church

An article in today's Columbus Dispatch by Meredith Heagney trumpets,

                             Faith leaders forgive Harry Potter  

"It wasn't so long ago that an orphan boy with a lightning-bolt scar was considered a danger to America's children, at least by some Muggles. Conservative Christians blasted the Harry Potter books and movies as promoting witchcraft and black magic.

"But years have passed, and Harry has grown up to become a mainstay in pop culture. Ahead of next Friday's release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the eighth and final movie in the series, religious critics are largely absent."

As glad as I am to see that the faithful have finally come to their senses, signalling what we all hope is the end of religious persecution of a group of fictional characters, I have to wonder why. 

It seems to me that the reason is obvious; the religious institutions that were here-to-fore persecuting the author and her books have finally figured out how to play them in a different light.


"In fact, many voices of faith are trumpeting the morals and values of the series, which they say can teach timeless truths about love, courage and sacrifice."

They still do not like the witchcraft and wizardry, which is the magic that makes the Harry Potter series what it is... a compelling coming-of-age tale of good-versus-evil set in a fantasy world.

Meanwhile, back-at-the-ranch, these same religious leaders continues to demonise other fantasy writers for committing the same sins that author J.K Rowling supposedly committed.

The real meaning of all this I'll leave to you, the reader to decide, but I know where I'd place my bets.

 You can read the the entire Columbus Dispatch article here

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