Bulwer Lytton of the Caliche

“The corporate communist globalist satanic Uniparty is the faction our founders warned us about,” Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers tweeted August 4

It’s the type of unhinged comment we now expect from Sen. Rogers, but it would also make a great first sentence for a spy thriller— okay, a hilariously-awful one. 

Or take the grandstanding of state Senate President Karen Fann, August 3: “Build the case, set the trap, and boom the Maricopa lies will come back to haunt them.” 

Not exactly brimming with clarity or insight into her twilight struggle against the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, but wow, you could imagine this spinning into the worst Philip Marlowe novel that Raymond Chandler never wrote. 

Senators Rogers and Fann have an untapped skill as bad novelists, and I for one wish they’d entered these sentences into the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, that annual homage to “It was a dark and stormy night,” and which honors the worst first sentences of unwritten novels. Here’s the grand prize winner for 2021, from Stu Duval of New Zealand:

A lecherous sunrise flaunted itself over a flatulent sea, ripping the obsidian bodice of night asunder with its rapacious fingers of gold, thus exposing her dusky bosom to the dawn’s ogling stare.

Not second or third or penultimate sentences. Just write the first truly awful sentence of a story and you can win the grand prize or a “dishonorable mention.”

There are so many dishonorable mentions in Arizona, we need more such sentences, even if our politicians and their friends are too humble to brag about their exploits.

Let us help them, and honor the best of the narcissistic and unctuous in a Bulwer Lytton of the Caliche. 

Imagine the potboiler sentence that the CyberNinjas would write: 

Karen Fann was a tough client, the client who would not accept “It was a clean election” as an answer, but was obsessed with her own concerns and hadn’t noticed that the only thing we could count reliably were the number of digits in a wired bank deposit.

Some of us like travelogues of self-discovery:

It was at about 27,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico that Doug Ducey realized he no longer fit inside himself as a business-oriented conservative who abjured culture wars, but was truly and genuinely desperate to fight vaccine and mask mandates and acknowledgment of racism in history classes, which of course had nothing to do with helping him achieve tax cuts for his rich friends the size of the Amazon rainforest, where he just happened to be headed at the time he couldn’t possibly answer press questions about rising COVID hospitalizations.

Romance starters are the favorite of others:

Mark liked to preen himself in the mirror, staring at his naked buff metacarpals, the ones that made women sigh when he isolated them during lunch sessions with his favorite nunchaku as he repeated the motto of his old trainer: ‘abductor digiti minimi, flexor digitorum profundus,’ over and over as he worked it, then imagining the swoon of certain appellate judges upon reading original and amended complaints as well as certain other submissions, and at last bellowing, “Brnovich, you multistate-attorneys-general-brief-signing hunk!” 

Then there is the young adult novel:

Years later, Adrian wondered why it seemed so fitting that he was the only person in his middle-school second-violin section, and while he and his sister joked about it, he became comfortable with that kind of role — being a campaign manager for his friend who ran for class president, the manager for the JV girls volleyball team, and the person voted by his classmates as ‘mostly likely to be vice president, or secretary of state for Utah or Arizona or maybe Nevada,’ and it just seemed inevitable that he was best fitted in every stage of his young life to be the top second fiddle. 

Finally — for this year — consider the horror genre:

“We’re going to have to amputate your moderate wing,” said dentist Paul to the Republican Party as his lips pulled back in a rictus only Jack Nicholson would intentionally attempt, “and I know a few years ago you may have expected a trained medical provider to suggest removing the unhealthy anti-democratic part, but I’m an original thinker, and see, over your last several visits I’ve infected you all with necrotizing fascism, and that is why you are nodding your heads enthusiastically