Monday, March 31, 2008

Book winners of a different kind

I'm delighted to learn the results of the latest Diagram Prize for Oddest Title Of The Year. The competition began in 1978, and has had some interesting entries. Appropriately enough, the results are released annually on April Fools Day.

This year the five runners-up, from low to high place, are:

6. People Who Mattered In Southend And Beyond: From King Canute To Dr. Feelgood.

5. Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues.

4. How To Write A How To Write Book.

3. Cheese Problems Solved.

2. I Was Tortured By The Pygmy Love Queen.

And this year's pièce de résistance and Diagram Prize winner:

1. If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.

Er . . . ah . . . yes, well, quite!

Mr. Horace Bent, who is the "diarist" for The Bookseller and the "custodian" of the Diagram Prize, observed earlier:

I confess: I have been anxious that as publishing becomes ever more corporate, the trade’s quirky charms are being squeezed out. Lists are pruned, targets are set, authors are culled. But happily my fears have been proved unfounded: oddity lives on. Your submissions for the 2007 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year were as rich and varied as ever. Drawing up the six-strong shortlist was a fraught and wildly controversial process.

I must pay homage to those books that narrowly missed out on a shortlist place. These were, in no particular order: Drawing and Painting the Undead; Stafford Pageant: The Exciting Innovative Years 1901–1952; and Tiles of the Unexpected: A Study of Six Miles of Geometric Tile Patterns on the London Underground. All sound like they are positively thrilling reads, and I do hope that the authors will try again next year. Honourable mention should also go to two titles that were ruled out because they were published too long ago: an unlikely-sounding HR manual called Squid Recruitment Dynamics, and the fascinating anthropological tome Glory Remembered: Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters.



cyn said...

Very funny indeed!

Sad that my favorite didn't make the list: How to Avoid Huge Ships (Trimmer, 1993) -- you'd think this issue would be self-explanatory, but 112 pages on the subject?

One reviewer on Amazon described it as the marine version of how not to be run over by a bus. Apparently the author was seadly serious! "an old captain who was tired of running over fools in their pleasure boats, and wanted to educate those same fools in a futile effort to save their lives."

Whatever sells!


cyn said...

oops, "seadly" should read "deadly"