5. Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans: The Best of
McSweeney’s Humor Category, edited by Dave Eggers, Kevin Shay,
Lee Epstein, John Warner and Suzanne Kleid (Knopf). This collection of short
comic pieces from McSweeney’s magazine and Web site features such lists
as “The Ten Worst Films of All Time, as Reviewed By Ezra Pound Over Italian
Radio” and “Actual Academic Journals Which Could Be Broadway Shows
If They Had Exclamation Points Added!” and concludes with “Alternate
Titles Proposed for This Book.” The book’s final section, “Lists,”
is a 31-page compilation of names, terms, trends, phrases and observations both
ridiculous and inspired.
4. The Disinformation® Book of Lists, by Russ
Kick (The Disinformation® Company, Ltd). No list of list-obsessed books
would be complete without at least one book inspired by list-making’s Old Testament,
David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace and Irving Wallace’s 1977 The Book of Lists.
This compendium of “subversive facts and hidden information in rapid-fire
format” delves into intoxication, religion, magic, sex, malign corporations,
the names given to U.S. nuclear tests, the last meals of executed prisoners,
and the people and bands who are the subjects of FBI files.
3. The Preservationist, by David Maine (St.
Martin’s Press). Drawing on one of the oldest and greatest list-driven tales
of all time, Maine’s debut novel about the man known here as “Noe”
is an irreverent and inventive addition to contemporary Noah’s Ark accounts.
From Noe’s pre-deluge mental list, which begins with “1. Need wood,”
to a list of a day “simplified to its most basic elements” made in
the midst of the 40-day delirium, the lists here encapsulate Maine’s vision
of a man and his family struggling to collect their own thoughts even as they
collect all the animals of the world.
2. Fears of Your Life, by Michael Bernard
Loggins (Manic D Press). Handwritten and illustrated by Loggins, an artist at
a San Francisco center for artists with developmental disabilities, these candid
and imaginative lists detail the fears that nag at us every day and those that
threaten to overwhelm us. Divided into two categories, “Things that you
are very fearful of” and “What fears can do to you,” the book’s
ongoing phobic inventory summons up images and moments that encourage us to
exorcise our dread with laughter.
1. The List: The Uses and Pleasures of Cataloguing,
by Robert E. Belknap (Yale University Press). The list-obsessed book
of the year embraces both the philosophical and rhetorical indulgences of the
list. “Lists are adaptable containers that hold information selected from
the mind-deep pool of possibility,” writes Belknap in his scholarly and
immensely readable exploration of the form. Examining the features and functions
of lists in literary works like Emerson’s Nature, Whitman’s Song of
Myself, Thoreau’s Walden and Melville’s Moby-Dick, the author
plumbs the ecstatic accumulations and poetic incantations, the contents and
constructions of list-making. Belknap expands the study of the list so that
we more fully appreciate what goes into one and what might be taken from it,
or as he puts it in his preface, “Lists are personal constructs that invite
different interpretations from different readers.”