Thursday, December 28, 2006

happy new year

After EVERY LAST ONE of us won the 2006 Person of the Year accolade from Time magazine, it seems a good moment to round out the year with something suitably Web 2.0-ish.

Is it just me, then, or is the following not truly hilarious.

(It's by a guy who after getting co-opted into judging a prestigious book prize, decided to go easy on reading the contenders. That's what you get for asking a founder of Slate to be your judge. Way to go.)

"Next, you must put aside any fuddy-duddy notion of not judging a book by its cover, or at least by its title. Does this seem unfair? Well, imagine that you are sitting on the floor, surrounded by clouds of despair and mountains of Styrofoam packing popcorn. You tear open the next shipping envelope and out comes, A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola. Once again: No offense intended to the author of what may be a brilliant book. But the title seems designed to repel invaders rather than welcome visitors. If, with superhuman energy, you work up enough curiosity about the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola to at least open the book, the phrase "hundred-year quest" will kill it right off. (Rule: Unless it actually is about the Hundred Years' War, never mention any period of time longer than two hours in the title of a book over 150 pages.) And if your interest survives that second wave of defense, it will not, in its weakened state, have a chance against "curve of horn"—a great who-cares phrase made even greater by the modifier "certain," which implies that the differences among curves of horns of animals in Angola that this book is concerned with are not even large or easily noticeable. Expecting us to overcome all these barriers and read the book anyway: That is what's unfair."


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