Monday, February 27, 2012

The Diagram Prize Rides Again

It's time once again for my favorite literary award, the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. The UK publishing organ The Bookseller -- sponsor of the award since its inception in 1978 -- has just released the 2011 shortlist, which is slightly longer than usual:
  • A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson (Amberley).
  • Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong (Urban Neighbours of Hope).
  • Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli (Kirjastus Elmatar).
  • The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson (Createspace).
  • Mr Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh (Royd Press).
  • A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares (Phaidon).
  • The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush (North Atlantic Books).
It may just be that I'm getting older and harder to please, but it seems to me that the recent shortlists have been more pedestrian than the great heights of the past. Sure, A Taxonomy of Office Chairs is wonderful, but isn't it just a slightly tattier manifestation of 2006's great winner The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification? And what of those twin icons of self-knowledge, How to Avoid Huge Ships and How to Shit in the Woods?

I'm sure there are stranger titles than these out there, right? Surely we still live in a world that's capable of a new Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers or Reusing Old Graves?

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