Thursday, March 3, 2016

But how did it get its own planet?

The Guardian gamely reviews a book shortlisted for the Diagram Prize, Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus:

Even before it’s been published, Jonathan A Allen’s book is up for an award: the Diagram prize for oddest title of the year. The signs are it will beat off stiff competition from William Furley and Victor Gysembergh’s Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy and Alan Stafford’s Too Naked for the Nazis, and so join an impressive roll call of winners that includes 1978’s Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, 1996’sGreek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, and 2008’s invaluable The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais.
It’s hard not to wonder if some previous award winners and nominees – among them Mats and Enzo, authors of How to Poo on a Date (2013) – didn’t expressly title their books with one eye on the prize. But Allen, who is Canada research chair in queer theory and assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at Brandon University, is a serious scholar, someone who feels passionately that all too often, in literary criticism and contemporary life, the anus gets a bum rap. Is he right?

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