I know, I know. It was a stressful election cycle and you all had a difficult time of it as you stared bleary-eyed at CNN and doom-scrolled Twitter, waiting for the result. But I am here today, writing from my election HQ at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in North Philly, to assure you that every vote of the 2020 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year will be counted.
We have certainly been under pressure. Especially when that guy in the “Beer-BBQ-Freedom” tank top burst into my presser while I was explaining to reporters how the votes were breaking down in Chattooga County, Georgia—unsurprisingly, a Lawnmowers: An Illustrated History stronghold. He screamed: “The Introducing the Medieval Ass crime family is stealing the election. The Bookseller is covering it up. We won our freedom for the world. Give us our freedom, Horace Bent!” If I have said this once, I have said it a million times: the august institution of the Diagram will not be intimidated by someone who looks like a redneck Keith Lemon.
But I do have some preliminary results, though there is still plenty of voting to go and it is far too soon to project a winner. But right now, Gregory Forth’s A Dog Pissing on the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in an Eastern Indonesian Society has surged into the lead, with 53% of the vote.
Dog Pissing... was aided by a spot on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation Radio One’s influential “As It Happens” show; Canadians, after hearing a McGill-Queen’s University Press title, and University of Alberta-based Forth, were in the running, responded with jingoistic populist nationalism (albeit very polite nationalism, served with a side of poutine) by flocking to the virtual ballot box to stump up for one of their own. Introducing the Medieval Ass is at a distant second place on 20%, while Lawnmowers: An Illustrated History and Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music are knotted in third place on 12%. The Slaughter of Farmed Animals: Practical Ways to Enhance Animal Welfare (2%) and How to Make Love to a Despot (1%) have yet to catch the imagination of the electorate.
But it is still all to play for, with polls open until 20th November. Do your democratic duty, citizens!
By the way, a bright spot amid the election ugliness came by way of an indie bookshop falling in the international spotlight as Rudy Guiliani’s typically unhinged 7th November Philadelphia press conference took place next to Fantasy Island Adult Book Store. The family-run business has been trading since 1978 and, according to its Facebook page, seems to have thrived by its bookselling nous and expansion into non-book product, typified by this review by loyal customer Chris Lee: “Impressive selection, knowledgeable and friendly staff, downright ludicrous dildos.” This year’s inaugural The Bookseller Bookshop Heroes saluted UK and Ireland shop staff; if next year’s list is worldwide, I imagine we will get a flood of nominations for Fantasy Island’s owner Zarif Jacob.
You can vote for the Diagram Prize 2020 here. Voting closes at 11.59 p.m. on 20th November.