The old bestselling novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote one of the most infamous opening lines ever. His 1830 novel, “Paul Clifford,” begins this way: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Snoopy used that as the beginning to all the stories he wrote with his typewriter while sitting on top of his doghouse, but people mocked Bulwer-Lytton long before Snoopy did. Nathaniel Hawthorne said in 1851 that Bulwer-Lytton “nauseates” him. He continued: “He is the very pimple of the age’s humbug. There is no hope of the public, so long as he retains an admirer, a reader or a publisher.”
That kind of loving, competitive spirit among writers is also alive and well in 2014, in Palm Coast. Local novelists Becky Meyer Pourchot and Tim Baker have cooked up an event that combines an open mic with the bluster of a boxing showdown. They also talked Flagler Spirits owner Jimmy Day and me into participating, as well.
The best part: The event also raises money for one of the great causes in our community, Christmas Come True, led by Nadine King. Read the box on this page for the details.
In the meantime, I’ll be at home, reading famous author put-downs in preparation. I found the Hawthorne quote in a post on examiner.com, along with 49 other examples, like these: Charles Baudelaire once called Voltaire “the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses.” Mark Twain said of Jane Austen: “I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
I never thought of Mark Twain as such a gruesome fellow. But I guess writing competitions bring out the best in people. Here’s hoping I’m not the one getting beaten with my own shin bone on May 10!
BOX: IF YOU GO
What: War of the Words
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10
Where: Hollingsworth Gallery, City Marketplace
Why: Fundraiser for Christmas Come True
How it works: The audience listens to two writers at a time and picks the winner. A double-elimination tournament, complete with wagers and trash talk, will make for a fun night. Guests can place their bets on contenders and have a chance to win a number of prizes.
Prizes: Grand prize is a one-night stay with complimentary appetizer and breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn. Also included in the grand prize is dinner for two at the new Tuscan Grille, and a gift certificate for two to the Flagler Auditorium.
Food: A limited number of free Bloomin’ Onion cards, donated by the Outback Steakhouse in Palm Coast, will be given out, as well as appetizers with desserts made possible by Houligan's, Focaccia, Bob Evans, the Palm Coast Winn-Dixie and private donors Nikita Hunsicker and Richard Skrzypinski. Drinks will be available for a donation.
Tickets: In advance, $5. At the door, $10. Visit Flagler Gift Shop at 105 N. Oceanshore Blvd., and on the events page at www.ChristmasComeTrue.org.