A grotesque comparison of a steamy love affair to a New York City street has won a Washington man this year's grand prize in an annual contest of bad writing.

Garrison Spik, a 41-year-old communications director and writer, took top honors in San Jose State University's 26th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with this opening sentence to a nonexistent novel:

"Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.'"

The contest is named after Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" famously begins "It was a dark and stormy night."

Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Awards are given for many categories, including awards for "purple prose" and "vile puns." The top winner receives a $250 prize.

Other noteworthy submissions:

"'Toads of glory, slugs of joy,' sang Groin the dwarf as he trotted jovially down the path before a great dragon ate him because the author knew that this story was a train wreck after he typed the first few words."

_ Alex Hall, Greeley, Colo.

"Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater _ love touches you, and marks you forever."

_ Beth Fand Incollingo, Haddon Heights, N.J.

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