There are occasions when an award or prize should not be proudly embraced by the recipient. These tongue-in-cheek “honors” supplement the ones listed in this article, highlighting developments in these areas in the past four years.
The Diagram Prize
The Diagram Prize is given annually to the book with the most unusual title. The most recent winners of this high honor include:
2016: Too Naked For the Nazis, by Alan Stafford. Other nominees for this year included Soviet Bus Stops, by Christopher Herwig; Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus, by Jonathan Allen; and Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film, by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe.
2017: The Commuter Pig Keeper: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Pigs when Time is your Most Precious Commodity, by Michaela Giles. This beat out Nipples on My Knee, by Graham and Debra Robertson.
2018: The Joy of Waterboiling, by Thomas Götz von Aust. This beat out such notable nominees as The Call of Nature: the Secret Life of Dung, by Richard Jones; Why Sell Tacos in Africa, by Paul Oberschneider; and Equine Dry Needling, by Cornelia Klarholz and Andrea Schachinger.
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest honors those authors who intentionally write the most atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel. The most recent winners include:
2016: William “Barry” Brockett brought home the big prize in 2016 by penning this gem: “Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.”
2017: Kat Russo took the prize this year with, “The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.”
2018: 17-year-old Tanya Menezes became the youngest winner of the Bulwer-Lytton prize with this winning entry: “Cassie smiled as she clenched John’s hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean’s depths so it could never be found again — and maybe get some custard after.”
Lyttle Lytton Contest
The Lyttle Lytton Contest honors the author who writes the worst opening line to his or her novel. Unlike the preceding Bulwer-Lytton contest, this one is limited to entries of few than 25 words or 200 characters. Recent winners include:
2015: “I drew my customized Kimber 1911 .45, with the Pachmayr grips and skeletonized trigger, and leveled it coolly at the African-Americans.” — Brad Hanon.
This beat out an honorable mention by Ariel Surajdeen:
“Mom,” I asked my mom. “What’s for breakfast?”
“You know I haven’t made breakfast since your father died in a mysterious car crash a year ago on your birthday,” she said sadly. “You have his eyes.”
2016: “It all started when my topaz eyes looked up into his soft emerald ones.” — Shannah McGill
This beat out this gem from Harper Cole: “The usually handsome left side of my darling husband’s face spasmed a full 90 degrees into horror when I told him my little secret.”
2017: The winning entry for 2017 was quoted anonymously in Managing Our Natural Resources: “When settlers first came to the shores of North America, they found several things. They found a land inhabited by an exotic people that was rich in resources and in wolves.”
Harper Cole once again was a finalist but didn’t quite make the final cut with this entry: “Climate change is real,” squawked the lady scientist to an auditorium crammed full of human sheep who didn’t question a word she said. “And I can ‘prove’ it.”
2018: The winner for 2018, alas, does not meet the family-friendly standards of Commonplace Fun Facts, but some of the finalists are certainly worth noting:
“The girl with the vegan pork regarded me with eyes more kind than the nonviolence on her plate.” — Neil Martin
“It looks like this continent is out of water,” I said in Antarctica, as a rookery of penguins waddled thirstily by.” — Ally Walker
“The brute was reminiscent of an ancient Ethiopian warrior, bristling with muscle and melanin, yet Charlie was unfazed.” — Grayson Seelke
“He opened the door fastly.” — Stan Clooney
“The wizard’s beard was long, much like Gandalf’s in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who was also a wizard.” — Luke Fowler
Read about other fun and unusual awards.
Read about other accomplishments and achievements.