October 11, 2008

Cheese Problems Solved

For 30 years, the Diagram Prize has been awarded to books with the oddest titles imaginable. Its winners tend to be specialized books aimed at a splinter of the book-buying public, like Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers or How to Avoid Huge Ships. But what about general-interest books with out-and-out bad titles?

Along these lines, Neal Stephenson’s new novel Anathem was singled out by the Paper Cuts blog for analysis on why it had such a bad title. (The fact that the title looks like Anathema was somehow missed.) This led to a call for reader submissions of bad book titles. Some selections:

Cooking With Pooh by Mouse Works

Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy by Matt Ruff

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

Book by Robert Grudin

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

"Me, Hood!" by Mickey Spillane

The Dork of Cork by Chet Raymo

Women, Fire and Dangerous Things by George Lakoff

Memories of the Ford Administration by John Updike

The Human Stain by Philip Roth

My nominee? My wife has impeccable taste, and she loved Leif Enger’s novel So Brave, Young and Handsome. I’m happy to take her word on its virtues, but I ain’t reading any book with a title like that; what would the guys at the gun club think?

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