“It was a dark and stormy night …” no, no, no.
“Helga stepped back from the window, the vision of her beloved, Roger, his lips lashed to those of their next-door neighbor, Natalie, still emblazoned in her …” no, no, no.
“‘Don’t do it!’ Rocky yelled as the masked dwarf reached for the scimitar stashed in the purple sash drawn tight around his …” and again, no.
Whew. This is hard, you know, intentionally trying to write bad prose (as opposed to doing so unintentionally, which is an offense no writer is likely to cop to). But there is a point in doing so: Writing bad prose well is a demonstration of skill.
Only those who understand good prose can ape the bad.
That’s the theory, at least, which is why The Spokesman-Review is sponsoring this year’s version of the Bronson Alcott Bad Prose Contest. And which is why we’re extending the entrance deadline for one more week.
We want to give every aspiring bad writer a chance to display his or her, uh, literary skills.
So get those entries in the mail. Remember, the trick is, in the words of contest judge (and Whitworth College English professor) Laura Bloxham, “to compose one sentence of bad original prose, preferably the opening sentence of the worst novel you never expect to write.”
Winners in each of two categories, student and community, will receive a $50 gift certificate to Auntie’s Bookstore. The absolutely, positively final deadline is Friday.
Send your entries to: Bronson Alcott Prose Contest, c/o Dan Webster, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Winners will be announced sometime in May.
On the shelves
Originally published in 1965, “Half-Sun on the Columbia: a Biography of Chief Moses” (University of Oklahoma Press, 377 pages, $17.95 paperback) is one of the books that earned Washington historians Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown their well-deserved reputation for scholarly effort.
“Their efforts have opened new areas for research into the complex events surrounding the confrontation of Indians and non-Indians in the settlement of the Columbia Basin,” writes University of Colorado anthropology professor Deward E. Walker Jr. in the book’s introduction.
The book tells the story of Chief Moses, also known as Sulktalthscosum or Half-Sun, who was chief of the Salish-speaking Columbia tribe. Detailing the years between 1850 and 1898, the book highlights Moses’ refusal to follow Chief Joseph and others into war.
Vance Joseph Youmans, curator of the Lincoln County Historical Museum and an instructor at Eastern Washington University, is author of “The Plough and the Pen: Paul S. Gross and the Establishment of the Spokane Hutterian Brethren” (Parkway Publishers, 146 pages, $25).
Youmans’ book is a history of the Hutterite colony that arrived in Spokane in 1960. With a history that dates back to the 16th century and Europe’s Protestant Reformation, the group is noted by its agrarianbased economy and isolation from the culture at large.
Based primarily on interviews, Youmans’ book is a first-hand look at an enduring American subculture.
Books for sale
It’s spring cleaning time in Pullman at the offices of the Washington State University Press, which means hundreds of the press’ books will be offered at big discounts.
The WSU sale will be held Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the press’ office on the WSU campus. For information, call (509) 335-3518.
Looking for a winner
Wanted: a person or organization boasting “outstanding achievement in the public humanities.”
Purpose: to award them the newly established Heather C. Frank Award.
Who’s sponsoring it: the Washington Commission for the Humanities and the Washington State Library.
What they get: $1,000 to support a public humanities project through an organization of the winner’s choice.
For nomination forms: Contact Linda Capell at the Washington Commission for the Humanities at (206) 753-4024.
Also: The humanities commission and state library are also seeking nominees for the annual Nancy Blankenship Pryor Award, which goes for “outstanding contribution to the literary heritage of Washington state.”
Nomination deadlines for both awards: May 31.
The reader board
Ed Reynolds will read from David Lee’s “The Porcine Canticles” at 7 p.m. tonight at Anacondo Espresso and Poetry, 510 S. Freya. Admission is $5, $3 for students.
Edward Hall, author of “West of the Thirties: Discoveries Among the Navajo and Hopi,” will read from his book at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington.
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