I’ve written a number of books with odd titles designed to catch the reader’s eye. Guys Not Real Bright And Damn Proud Of It!, Hey! Is That Guy Dead Or Is He The Skip!?! (Apparently, I should have done a little more research for a book about curling.) The working title on the book about my mother Margaret was: All Humour Needs A Victim And Your Mother Should Come First. (I changed it, not because she didn’t like the title but because, even at the age of 89, she could still retain a lawyer.)
I always thought Roseanne Barr’s critical line about men would make for an interesting title for a book. The main title would read: Only A Man Can Read A Map while the subtitle would add: Because Only A Man Can Imagine An Inch Equals Ten Miles.
However, it never occurred to me that a boring book title could have such universal appeal. Britain’s Bookseller Magazine has just announced the winner of their Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Beating out four other strange cover headings, this year’s winner is The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60 Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. The only way I’d buy this book is if it were printed on pages of fresh cheese, so I could eat it instead of read it.
Close but no cigar, four other odd titles were short-listed for the award. The Large Sieve and Its Application fell through the cracks while Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring made the judges forget all about Watching Paint Dry. Strip and Knit With Style was right up there with Curbside Consultation of the Colon. This may be a fine book but, as a rule, I always try to avoid a situation that involves a panhandler asking me to drop my pants.
And by the way, Close But No Cigar would make a very good title for a book detailing the hundreds of times the CIA has tried unsuccessfully to kill Fidel Castro.
Looking down the list of previous winners of Oddest Book Title of the Year is interesting.
The Joy of Chickens sounds similar to The Joy of Sex, that runaway bestseller out many years ago and if it is about sex then it must have been written by a rooster.
Last Chance at Love: Terminal Romances sounds pretty grim. I imagine the bride wore black, the groom wore an IV drip and Father Kevorkian said: “You may now, and quickly, kiss the bride.”
How To Avoid Huge Ships was definitely not written by a pirate from Somali and Reusing Old Graves is no comfort to someone who was hoping for peace and quiet in the hereafter.
Weeds in a Changing World doesn’t exactly ease the anxiety of those 200 suitcase nukes being sold and smuggled around the world. Double doses of Miracle-Gro couldn’t make that title appealing.
From the shortest of odd titles Bombproof Your Horse (has to be authored by a roadside riding instructor in Iraq) to the longest People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders And What To Do About It. That’s ridiculous! People who are dead but still moving know who they are. Their name tag ends with “Canadian Senator.”
Living With Crazy Buttocks is an intriguing title for a book.
High Performance Stiffened Structures is a book about industrial engineering and no, I will not make a joke about Madonna here.
The most understated title by far is Population and Other Problems issued by China National Publications. Other problems? How about Home Recipes From Several Hundred Million Jobless Who Would Like To Wok The Leader Of The Chinese Communist Party Who Got Them Into This Economic Mess. Or, Thank God For Mao And Wal-Mart.
Proceedings Of The Second International Workshop On Nude Mice is probably only of interest to those who attended the first workshop. And they have all been chemically castrated at their own request.
Let’s hope that American Bottom Archeology has nothing to do with man’s prostrate and that The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling does not have a photo of Rick Mercer and Pierre Berton on the cover.
NOVEMBER 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER AND LOWER MAINLAND
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