Sunday, 15 April 2007

The Diagram Prize in all its glory

I know I promised you more news from the front line of decimating my text but I've decided to let you off the hook for now and introduce a new category in this blossoming blog: Quirks and Funnies. These are the fascinating, humorous or just plain weird things that catch my eye, whether in the world of publishing or the world at large.

So we start with the annual Diagram Prize, awarded by the trade magazine The Bookseller to the oddest title of the year - and these have to be genuine books that really were published. The winner in 2005 was 'How People Who Don't Know They're Dead Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It'. Like I said, the oddest titles ... (I particularly like the 'What to Do About It' tag on that one).

This year's shortlist went like this:

How Green Were the Nazis?
D Di Mascio's Delicious Ice Cream: D Di Mascio of Coventry - an Ice Cream Company of Repute, with an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans
Tattoed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan
Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium
Better Never to Have Been: the Harm of Coming into Existence
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

Take a moment now, and consider which you would have voted for.

I was torn between the Nazis and the Spoon Boxes.

The actual winner was the Shopping Carts guide.

To add to the fun, Radio 4 ran a competition inviting people to write a spoof excerpt from one of the above, and I'm delighted that one of my ex-students, Pamela Morley, was runner-up for a hilarious version of the Tattoed Mountain Women. She was beaten to first place, dangnabbit, by a wonderful How Green Were the Nazis piece. If you go to you ought to be able to track it down, or just Google Pamela's name. Many congratulations to her - she was a skilful comic writer when I was teaching her - and you've either got the gift for that or you've not.

Other Diagram nominees in previous years - The Do-It-Yourself Lobotomy: Open Your Mind to Greater Creative Thinking; Guide to Owning a Quaker Parrot; Bombproof Your Horse; Living With Crazy Buttocks; How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (tricky if you have the aforesaid crazy buttocks) - the list is a long and wonderful one, and if I dredge up any others I'll let you know.

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