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Suggest a contest for your fellow wordplay lovers. If we can use or adapt your idea, we'll bestow upon you any book from The Atlantic Store.
Confessional autobiography of the world's greatest perjurer: "Lord of the
Diet book for the 1990s: "Goodbye, Mr. Hips"
Lessons in deficit financing: "Future Hock"
Chaucer's guided tour of English pubs: "The Canterbury Ales"
Self-help book about math phobia: "Far from the Adding Crowd"
Nostradamus, the childhood years: "Little Omen"
Now surely, folks, there are other such volumes we can put on Rhr's shelves. Just think of a famous title, behead one of the key words, and supply a blurb or joke about the resulting contents. Mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Multiple entries are welcome, but for our convenience pack your entries into one piece of e-mail whenever possible (and please don't use attached files). Senders of our three favorite entries will each receive our hanks (er, thanks) and our raise (er, praise). Each winner will have a choice between three different prizes: a limited edition "Surf TheAtlantic.com" T-shirt that comes in extra-large, one-hundred percent cotton and is available in black or white, or a free book (one in which all the characters are where they belong) from the Atlantic store.
Moby Ick will remain open through Friday, May 2. Winners and full results will be posted on Friday, May 9.
--EC and HR
"While I type this," correspondent email@example.com wrote to us, "I'm toasting your new contest with a glass of very expensive wine. As you can probably guess, it's one that you recommend in your book for the wine connoisseur: 'The Grapes of Rath.'"
More than one hundred contestants joined firstname.lastname@example.org in answering our invitation to a literary beheading. As a result, all the famous Stories turned into Tories. In addition (or perhaps we should say subtraction), all the Dreams became Reams, Papers became Apers, Valleys became Alleys, Witches became Itches, Presidents became Residents, Stars became Tars, Sexes became Exes, Women became Omen, Gold became Old, Joy became Oy, and Parks became Arks. (In the popular "Jurassic Ark," for example, the population on Noah's ship was neatly trimmed by a pair of hungry velociraptors.) The most popular beheadment of all was the one that reduced Years to Ears; this tended to create some rather grisly scenarios for Vincent Van Gogh, although email@example.com also suggested that "Two Ears Before the Mast" might be Ross Perot's adventures as a cabin boy.
We didn't authorize any monkeyshines with spacing, but several people showed how such tinkering could be profitable (do we detect a future contest here?). For example, Hoglund@whitman.edu alerted us to sex and intrigue in China: "The Manchurian and I Date." MiladyJoan@aol.com told us of Michener's strange saga of an insect making its home in a pioneer kitchen: "The Oven Ant." And Craig.Colclasure@som.com related GB Shaw's drama of mistaken identity: "Ain't Joan."
Some of the best and funniest ideas were duplicated, proving once again that great minds warp alike. For instance, a dozen people suggested "Travels with Harley," which Hoglund@whitman.edu called "the cross-country trip of a man and his hog." Another dozen people shortened Melville's "Omoo" to "Moo," the saga of a hunt for a great white sea cow (for a punch line, firstname.lastname@example.org said: "Thar she lows!").
Here are some other volumes that came in many editions, with typical synopses:
*"Wuthering Eights": A tale of two English rowing teams.
*"Eaves of Grass": How to thatch your own roof.
*"Leak House": The drippy sequel.
*"Madame Ovary": Biography of the Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
*"Where Angels Fear to Read": Selections from the devil's own bookstore.
*"The Ed Pony": Boyhood of a talking horse.
*"Little Ed Riding Hood": Gender-swapping in the woods.
*"The Andromeda Train": Interstellar travel becomes possible, thanks to Amtrak.
*"Let Us Now Raise Famous Men": The advantages of exhuming dead heroes.
*"Cannery Ow": A case for OSHA to investigate.
*"Of Ice and Men": Chilling tales of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
*"One With the Wind": The history of hang-gliding.
*"The Wizard of Z": An expert's insomnia cures.
*"The Man in the Ron Mask": Memoirs of a Reagan impersonator.
*"The Itches of Eastwick": Poison sumac devastates a whole town.
*"Vanity Air": Some airline stewardesses think they're so great.
*"The AMA Sutra": Exotically illustrated surgical techniques.
*"Fear of Lying": Or, "Why I Won't Go into Politics."
*"001: A Space Odyssey": Britain's top spy combats aliens.
*"Oldfinger": James Bond battles Strom Thurmond.
*"Animal Arm": The Darwinian evolution of limbs.
*"Rave New World": Vision of a very hip future.
*"The Wrong Ox": Where's Babe when Paul really needs her?
*"A Clockwork Range": Burgess's cookbook.
*"Gulliver's Ravels": Crocheting for castaways.
*"House of the Even Gables": A roofer's triumph.
*"Sons and Overs": Generations of cricket players at Eton.
*"The Secret Gent": Conrad's book about Kurtz.
*"Avid Copperfield": Dickens exposes greed in London.
*"Smilla's Sense of Now": A woman lives for the moment.
*"I Know Why the Aged Bird Sings": Maya Angelou's last poems.
*"Other Goose": Alternative fables.
*"Airy Tales": Lightweight reading.
*"My Mother My Elf": A sprite's reflections.
*"984": Beowulf as Big Brother.
*"Laughterhouse Five": A quintet of comedy pieces.
*"Liver Twist": Some strange bartending recipes.
*"The Kin of Our Teeth": How to read dental records.
*"His Side of Paradise": Adam's version of the Fall.
*"The Secret Harer": Confessions of a rabbit poacher.
*"The LAN of the Cave Bear": Networking in the Ice Age.
*"The Ballad of Reading AOL": Oscar Wilde's online frustrations.
*"Thus Poke Zarathustra": How to outbox Nietzsche.
*"Lack Beauty": A girl and her ugly horse.
*"Iller Angels": Food poisoning in Paradise.
*"The Hot One": Lucifer's story.
*"The Ridges of Madison County": A geographer finds romance in the hills.
*"Ride and Prejudice": Jane Austen salutes Rosa Parks.
*"Rime and Punishment": Solzhenitsyn exposes the Siberian prison system.
*"Moll Landers": Gangster girl becomes advice columnist.
*"T": Stephen King describes a monster wearing too many gold chains.
*"ET Sematary": King reveals a secret alien graveyard.
*"Aladdin and His Magic Amp:" A young rock-and-roller's sound never quits.
*"Rainspotting": Inside the Weather Channel.
*"East of Den": How to find Steinbeck's living room.
*"Dam Bede": The story of Adam's mother.
*"Tristram Handy": Sterne reminder about home repair.
*"All of the Wild": Nature book with nothing left out.
*"The Ape of Lucrece": Shakespeare monkeys around with the plot.
*"Through the Looking Lass": Alice's adventures as a voyeur.
*"Lice in Wonderland": The White Rabbit should be nicknamed "Bugs."
*"_": Thomas Pynchon gets more obscure than ever after "V."
With so many duplications (and the list above is only representative, not comprehensive), contestants were hard-pressed to find unique titles or original takes. Nevertheless our three winners (and other favorites below) managed to turn the trick. Congratulations to DKARY@lsac.org, email@example.com and Ingbobl@aol.com for their sterling contributions to literature! And thanks, everyone, for a great game!
*"I'm K, You're OK": Kafka's protagonist compiles a list of mild affirmations.
*"The Struggle for Elf-Government": Lincoln Steffens documents a near mutiny on the North Pole.
*"IX Characters in Search of an Author": Pirandello's original manuscript, before he was told by his producer, "Hey, Luigi, we have only six actors in our company!"
*Before there was Mulder and Scully, there was: "The X-Bow Incident."
*"Uthering Heights": Pendragon's autobiography.
*His death star destroyed, Vader recoups his losses in an unorthodox campaign using 3-wheelers in: "The Empire Trikes Back."
*Keats poem to his exotic nurse: "Ode on a Grecian Rn."
*Feminism on the high seas: "MS Pinafore."
*An existential re-examination of Noah and the Flood: "Heart of Arkness."
*Harold Stassen's Presidential memoirs: "000 Days."
*"Hans Rinker and the Silver Skates": Hans gives in to his onomastic destiny and joins the roller derby.
*"The Golden Owl": Model for "The Maltese Falcon."
*"The Ad Seed": Fictionalized drama of the rise of Madison Avenue.
*"The Woman in Hite": Expose -- what's Shere really like?
*"The Ion in Winter": Why the hole in the ozone layer changes with the seasons, and what to do about it.
"*One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Est": New age psychology in a traditional asylum.
*"The Mouse That Oared": Wibberley's children's tale about the Stuart Little of the sculling set.
*"The Ambler": Dostoievski's tale of the man addicted to country walks.
*"Winnie the Ooh": An even cuter teddy bear -- Dorothy Parker weally fwows up.
*"Pilgrim from Tinker Reek": Dillard's small battle in the war against water pollution.
*"M is for Alice": Ralph Kramden finally dials "M" and sends his long-suffering wife to the moon.
*"The Tin Rum": A look at the ill-fated venture to sell spirits in cans.
*"Om Jones": A foundling discovers his real father is a Buddhist monk.
*"A*S*H": Fun-loving doctors in the Surgeon General's office take on the tobacco industry.
*"Lose Encounters of the Third Kind": A skeptic convincingly debunks claims of alien abduction.
*"Ouched by an Angel": A guardian spirit accidentally gives a 4-year-old a booboo.
*Avoiding Freuding: "Idnapped."
*Monday morning softballers: "The Lame of Life."
*The 1960s revisited: "Righton Beach Memoirs."
*A concerned father muses over his son's latest report card in Kipling's: "F."
*The story of a youth from a pioneer family who became a grain merchant is told in "Giles Oat-Boy."
*"The Olden Apples": Story of rotten fruit.
*"Marriage & Orals": Ph.D. candidate has rough time defending thesis and placating wife.
*"Ass Timberlane": Jerk gets lost on logging road.
*"Udder Range": Farmer milking cows engages in target practice.
*"Call Me Adam": Sequel to "All About Eve."
*"The Oys of Summer": The first all-rabbinical baseball team.
*"Rue Grit": A young mother returning from a beach vacation with her nine children wrote this book after washing them, their hair, clothes, towels, blankets, car, and the dog.
*"Confessions of Nat Urner": Mortician admits his difficulty in getting his clients into the correct containers.
*"The French Lieutenant's Oman": Foreign Legionnaire's memoirs.
*"Pace": Interminable Michener epic about a group of young people who walk from the Caribbean to Alaska.
*"VanHoe": Choosing the right tool for your Dutch bulb farm.
*Cornel West's winning poker strategies: "Ace Matters."
*All manners of disgusting things: "Icciones."
*"He Lost World": God slips up.
Stephen King novels:
*"Arrie": A bubble-headed girl and her reactions to her classmates.
*"Ire Starter": A telekinetic kid causes tempers to "flare."
*"The Asp Factory": The story of an Egyptian queen and her death.
*"The Now Queen": An autobiography by Madonna.
*"The Third Ave": The wave of the future.
*Bizarre military regulations from the Revolutionary War are examined in the novel "Catch 2."
*The oldest known gardening manual, penned by Snori Sturlisson, is the famous "Rose Edda."
*John Steinbeck reveals that Lancelot wasn't the only one getting a little action on the side in his book: "The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Nights."
*"The Red and the Lack": Life in Russia before and after the breakup of the USSR.
*"Coming of GE in Samoa": Margaret Mead's classic sociological study of the introduction of General Electric products in the South Pacific.
*"The Waste And": Eliot's diatribe against compound sentences.
*A unisex manual on witchcraft by Ray Bradbury: "Something Wicked His Way Comes."
*"Asher" by Ann Rice: The early history of Lasher before he went to 'ell and became a vampire.
*The diary of a participant in a contest to create the creature with record-setting BO: "Rankenstein."
*The deck is stacked against you, so check your ego at the door: "The Cincinnati Id."
*Oy, not another sex book: "Hite Noise."
*It's the '70s and you just can't get enough: "Infinite Est."
*"The Scent of Man": Guide to the British Isle, for the olfactorily-oriented traveler; one of the famous "Odor's Travel Guides."
*"A Dog of Landers": Collected advice columns for canines.
*"98.4": Orwell's dystopian novel about mild hypothermia.
*"MMA": Jane Austen's guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
*"The Aerie Queen": Sequel to "Where Eagles Are."
*Patriot Ames": Biography of Aldrich, from the Russian point of view.
*"Une": Frank Herbert's first Arakis novel, en Francais.
*"Rums along the Mohawk": Guide to the the Upstate NY bar scene.
*"Charlotte's E.B.": White's biography.
*"The Old Curiosity Hop": The Readers' Digest condensed version.
*Robertson Davies' hematology text: "What's Red in the Bone."
*And from the Adults Only shelf, I enjoyed Joyce Carol Oates' story of a reunion of high school girls swapping locker room stories: "You Must Remember His."
*"He": The sex change operation that made the author haggard.
*"Ire in the Heavens": How God finally became angry and destroyed the human race. The book was written by a person who had been kidnapped aboard a UFO at the time, and escaped the destruction. He has left this account to be read sometime in the future.
*Pepe Le Pew's guide to love and romance: "The Reek Way."
*Stephen King's horror thriller about the evil twin of television's most diminutive alien: "The Dark Alf."
*Eva Tappan's novel about the twilight years of King Arthur's equestrian warriors: "When Knights Were Old."
*Joseph Wambaugh's crime novel about murder at garbage collectors' convention: "Litter Dome."
*"Owl and Other Poems": Ornithological poetry by Ginsberg
*"Angling Man": Bellow's masterpiece about fishing in Lake Michigan.
*"ATT": Beckett's study about the U.S telcom giant.
*The Machine Tops": E.M Forster's prediction of the results of Kasparov vs. Deep Blue.
*Applewhite's last computer disc: "ROM -- Here to Eternity."
*"The LD Man and the Sea": Dan Quayle takes an ocean voyage.
*"The Three Aces of Eve" -- Timely serving is the key to winning the only tennis tournament ever held in the Garden of Eden.
*Nabokov's character study about an apathetic man: "Pale Ire."
*This is about a dude for all times who just stupidly ignored a death warning in March: "Prince of Ides."
*A feminist manifesto to remove gender from Chinese cosmology: "A Prayer for the Ying."
*Insect abuse has not escaped activists: "The Burnt Tick."
*"The Voyage of the Eagle": How birds evolved to fly.
*"The Rabian Nights": Recovering after a canine adventure.
*Shocking sweatshop conditions at the Victoria's Secret factory: "Peyton Lace."
*A beautifully written guide to the breweries of the Northwest: "The Oly Bible."
*"Paper Ion": A journalist tries out for the San Diego Chargers.
*Skinner went into the boxing arena with his "Bout Behaviorism."
*Longstreet's exhaustive study of the Florsheim wealth: "Heel of Fortune."
*Robert Heinlein's study of a dark, burnt brown ogre: "The Umber of the Beast."
*Then there was Irwin Shaw's "Read Upon the Waters," a complete guide to reading at sea.
*Buckner's chilling "Ringing Down the House": a horror story about a huge, self-activating renegade bell that razed homes.
*Joseph Heller's book on how to get out of jail early on good behavior: "Losing Time."
*And for the teenagers, the 90's valley girl: LaVyrle Spencer's "Mall Town Girl."
*Toni Morrison is "Eloved" on the internet.
*Hunter S. joins a twelve step programme and swears off drugs and gambling in "Fear and Oathing in Las Vegas."
*Can this be the future of health care? Marques writes "The Story of a Hipwrecked Sailor."
*Nabokov shares the lighter side of the flood in "Laughter in the Ark."
*"The Treasury of Lean Jokes": Jenny Craig goes for the funny bone.
*"Fahrenheit '51": Indiana Jones hot on the trail of the last remaining bottle of Germany's greatest wine vintage.
*"Dick Racy": X-rated comic.
*"Sweeney Odd": Sondheim musical about one very strange teacher at the London International Barber School.
*"Things All Apart": A cautionary fable of modern-day Africa.
*"Our Own": Thornton Wilder's take on a New Hampshire militia movement.
*"The Curse of the Starving Lass": Sam Shepard's account of a homeless teenage girl and her revenge on the society that refuses to feed her.
*"Rue West": Shepard's warning about Easterners who vacation west of the Mississippi.
*"The House of Blue Eaves": John Guare's play about growing up in a house with a very sad overhang.
*"Sunday in the Ark with George": Sondheim musical version of Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth."
*How about that trashy "Euromancer," by William Gibson, romance writer?
*Mailer reached a new low in the whore-with-a-heart-of-gold redemption story with "Harlot's Host."
*Can you conceive of the shoelace that can't break or lose the little plastic thing on the end? Surely this would be the first entry in the "Dictionary of Imaginary Laces."
*She might prefer the traditional "stewardess" label, or perhaps the olde-world-sounding "air hostess" -- who knows, it's possible she would be happy with the modern, bland, "flight attendant." But her winning style and grace has for me earned her the permanent title "My Air Lady."
*"The Wo Gentleman of Verona": A travel book by some Chinese guys who got seasick in Venice.
*"0,000 Leagues Under the Sea": Just scratches the surface of the Nautilus voyage.
"Elf-Reliance": Santa finally tells all in how-to gift-making guide.
*Freud's Principles of Psychology, translated into Spanish: "El Id."
*Beverly Sill's private papers: "Tone Diaries."
*Morris's short story of Adam and Eve's wedding: "Ceremony in One Tree."
*Gore Vidal's Guide to Shopping in Outer Space: "Visit to a Mall Planet."
*Stuart Wood's mystery of Zsa Zsa Gabor's Afterlife: "Dead Yes."
*Ken Follett's Bio of Betsy Ross: "Ye of the Needle."
*Burnet's Diary of a Cosmetician: "The Secret Arden."
*Ray Bradbury's Story of the Academy Awards: "A Raveyard for Lunatics."
*"All Four" by Sparky Lyle: The former Yankee pitcher describes his life as a polygamist.
*"O Kill a Mockingbird": A guide to surviving off nature in the suburbs.
*"Y Antonia": A re-examination of the standard high school English curriculum.
*"Harlotte's Web": An Olde Englishe tale of romantick Entanglement and Debaucherie.
*"Hat to Expect When You're Expecting": A complete guide to infant millinery.
*Ed McMahon's tour of the Midwest: "Winesburg, Hio."
*Compass maker's disaster: "A Moveable East."
*Prizewinning flower at the County Fair: "The Aster of Ballentrae."
*"The Wild Alms": Faulkner's novel about a fey charity spree among the residents of Yoknapatawpha county.
*"The Hero With a Thousand Aces": Joseph Campbell's examination of the mythology of Vegas card sharks.
*"Ives of the Monster Dogs": My wife doesn't like his music either.
*"As She Climbed Across the Able": No glass ceiling for her!
*"The Burden of Roof": Turow explores architectural solutions to nasty New England winters.
*"The Ad Bomber": Barnstorming pilot takes delight in flying through billboards.
*"Elements of Hemistry": LaVoisier shows how to sew using synthetic fibers created when his laboratory caught fire.
*"In Old Blood": Modern DNA analysis proves who was really buried in the shroud of Turin.
*"Lear and Present Anger": Famous poet's dark side revealed.
*"The Way Est": Guthrie sends readers on a real trip, California style.
*"Resumed Innocent": The Fugitive is finally exonerated but finds life not on the lam to be fatal.
*"The Mystery of Edwin Rood": Dickens's unfinished mystery about a crusader.
*"Beria": James Michener's saga about Stalinists in Spain.
*"Less the Beasts and the Children": Creative tax deductions.
*"ROM Russia with Love": James Bond falls for a beautiful Soviet computer scientist.
*"The Voyage of the Dawn Reader": A journey to the end of the library.
*"The Silver Hair": A chronicle of Narnia for much older readers.
*"The Host and Mrs. Muir": Sea captain's home is turned into a bed and breakfast.
*"Where Eagles Are": Alistair MacLean thriller about falconry.
*"Black Elk Peaks": Poetic North American Indian musings about mountains.
*"The Two Owers": Bilbo and Gandalf go into debt.
*"A View from the Ridge": It's worth the hike.
*"Fodor's Pain": Travel guide to Pamplona.
*"A Fine and Private Lace": Peter S. Beagle writes about lingerie.
*"Ired": John Belushi gets angry.
*"Last Rain to Memphis": Tennessee experiences a drought.
*"Ray's Anatomy": Post-mortem of the Martin Luther King assassination.
*"Aws": Unsuspecting tourists at Sea World are taken in by the cute little shark.
*"Have You Seen Their Aces": Erskine Caldwell exposes cheating in a poker tournament.
*"Hem": Joyce Carol Oates discusses sewing.
*"Mall Craft Warnings": Tennessee Williams play about teens and their systems of lookouts after curfew.
*"Ron and Silk": Mark Salzman reveals President Reagan's penchant for lingerie.
*"The Rial": Kafkaesque fluctuations of the Iranian currency.
*"Fahrenheit 51": They wanted to burn books, but they couldn't get a fire started.
*"Losing Time": Joseph Heller story about procrastination.
*"Ambi": Left-antlered deer learns to use his right antler.
*"The Civil Ar": Shelby Foote narrative about the alphabet's most polite letter.
*"The World According to Arp": How the founder of Dada sees the universe.
*"Aging Bull": What made Dennis Rodman's hair turn gray?
*"The Ark at the Top of the Stairs": The tribulations of being Noah's wife.
*"The All of the House of Usher": Poe's epic about the theaters of his day.
*"He Who Gets Lapped": A first-person account of the Boston Marathon by the last-place finisher.
*Henry Miller abandons his bohemian lifestyle, embraces materialism, and starts endorsing luxury automobiles: "Lexus."
*"The Road Head": Bill Gates rejects corporate life and adopts the ways of Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey.
*"The Spy Who Came in From the Old": Compulsory retirement in the CIA.
*James Baldwin's early, weaker novel: "The Ire Next Time."
*"Notes ROM Underground": The multimedia Dostoyevsky.
*"Five Range Pips": Gladys Knight goes Country and Western.
*Michael Jackson's story: "Now White and the Seven Dwarfs."
(Hermion Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Adventurous atoms go searching for electrons in the wilderness: "The Ioneers."
*William Faulkner's anatomical treatise on the auditory facility: "The Ear."
*Francis Bacon's treatise on Capitalism in the Renaissance: "The Advancement of Earning."
*Washington Irving's manual on small-yacht navigation: "The Ketch Book."
*A Road Tour of NYC: "The Horn Birds."
*Jerry Della's Femina: "The Adwoman of Chaillot."
*De Alarcon's expose of Ms. Westheimer: "Ruth Suspected."
*"The 9 Steps": An updated version of the famous John Buchan thriller, for mobility-challenged readers. The action builds much more quickly than in the original version.
*"The Green Ills of Africa": Hemingway's romantic tale of two-fisted manly men and the local native foods they wish now they hadn't been so eager to sample.
*The omnipotent feline: "The Cat Who Walks Through Alls."
*A tale of the eternal dilemma: "Time Enough Or Love."
*The antebellum saga of a Mississippi family with a prize-winning crop: "Show Oat"
*"The Wan Princess": What Diana's been up to lately.
*"Little Hop of Horrors": Audrey's guide to avoiding man-eating plants.
*"He Stranger": An early existential Tarzan novel from Edgar Rice Burroughs.
*The autobiography of the man who inspired W. Somerset Maugham, T. Boone Pickens and C. Aubrey Smith: "F. Human Bondage."
*Cookbook for extreme vegetarian dieters: "Lean, Luscious and Eatless."
*"Forrest Ump": Get baseball tips from Smokey the Bear.
*"Ben Ur": Done that!
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.