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Amazon.Com Sponsoring Online Writing Contest

You’ve already missed out on the chance to win several thousand dollars. But if you’re even the slightest inclined to use the Internet, you can still get in on the action. And maybe earn as much as $100,000 in the process.

The contest is sponsored by which bills itself as the Earth’s Biggest Bookstore and claims to be the leading online retailer of books. The requirements are simple. convinced noted author John Updike to write the beginning of an original story titled “Murder Makes the Magazine.” That first paragraph went online on Tuesday.

Writers are invited on a daily basis to add their own paragraphs to the story. Each day’s submissions will be judged by the editorial staff, with the ultimate winner receiving $1,000.

All visitors to the site, which can be accessed at, are eligible for the $100,000 grand prize.

“This is all about fun,” said founder Jeff Bezos in a press release.

The contest will run through Sept. 12, when Updike will write the closing paragraph.

Here is his opening:

“Miss Tasso Polk at ten-ten alighted from the elevator onto the olive tiles of the nineteenth floor only lightly nagged by a sense of something wrong. The Magazine’s crest, that great black M, the thing masculine that had most profoundly penetrated her life, echoed from its inlaid security the thoughtful humming in her mind: ‘m.’ There had been someone strange in the elevator. She had felt it all the way up. Strange, not merely unknown to her personally. Most of the world was unknown to her personally, but it was not strange. The men in little felt hats and oxblood shoes who performed services of salesmanship and accountancy and research and coordination for the firms (Simplex, Happitex, Technonitrex, InstantPix) that occupied the seventeen floors beneath the sacred olive groves of The Magazine were anonymous and interchangeable to her but not strange. She could read right through the button-down collars of their unstarched shirts into the ugly neck-stretching of their morning shaves, right through the pink and watery whites of their eyes into last night’s cocktail party in Westchester, Tarrytown, Rye, or Orange, right through their freckled, soft, too-broad-and-brown hands into adulterous caresses that did not much disgust her, they were so distant and trivial and even, in their suburban distance from her, idyllic, like something satyrs do on vases. Miss Polk was forty-three, and had given herself to The Magazine in the flower of her beauty. Since the day, a nervous bride, when she had been led to a desk in whose center was set a bouquet of sharpened pencils in a water glass, she had ridden the elevator two dozen thousand times, and her companions on this alternating rise and fall were rarely strange.”

To read the paragraphs that have been added so far, fire up your computer.

Sweeney redux

Don’t forget to listen for Julia Sweeney’s literary reading 12:30 p.m. Monday on KPBX-FM 91.1 (91.9 in North Idaho). The reading, which took place at Auntie’s Bookstore on July 24, is from her book “God Said ‘Ha’.”

The reader board

Sue Henry, author of “Death Takes a Passage,” will read from her book at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington.

Dick E. Byrd, author of “Birdfeeding 101,” will read from his book at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Auntie’s Bookstore.

Liz Johnson-Gebhardt, author of “Vancouver Rendezvous,” will sign copies of her novel from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at WaldenBooks at Northtown mall.

, DataTimes