More Portmatomes

Wouldn’t you love to read “Gone with the Wind in the Willows” or “The Bell Jarhead”?

Careful readers of this space will remember Portmantomes, a great literary innovation designed to economize on reading time by combining two books into one, the more disparate the better. The concept was pioneered by Chronogram, whose readers came up with such not-to-be missed volumes as:

Cat on a Hot Tin Drum

Nineteen-eighty-four Whom the Bell Tolls

Horton Hears a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

The Jungle Book of Mormon

I Sing the Body Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

and of course

The Devil and Daniel Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.

I was rather proud of myself for having come up with:

The American Way of Death in the Afternoon

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul on Ice

and that immortal children’s whaling story,

Moby-Dick and Jane.

Then RBC readers took the bit between their teeth. Bernard Yomtov proposed:

Huckleberry Finnegan’s Wake

which I think you will agree was pretty spectacular.

But three readers who wish their names withheld truly outdid themselves, producing:

The Art of War and Peace

Go Ask Alice in Wonderland

The Bell Jarhead

On the Road Less Traveled

A Farewell to Arms and The Man

The Last Don Quixote

Return of the Native Son

Gone With the Wind in the Willows

Guns, Germs, and Steel Magnolias

On the Road to Perdition

Stuart Little Women

The Mayor of Casterbridge Over the River Kwai

The Caine Mutiny on the Bounty

Northwest Passage to India

The Once and Future King Leopold’s Ghosts

The Red and the Black Boy

Slaughterhouse-Five People You Meet in Heaven

Dandelion Winesburg, Ohio

Independence Day Into Night

The Tell-tale Heart of Darkness

and that pornoecclesiological classic:

The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun’s Story of O

My thanks to all the players, who win free lifetime subscriptions to the RBC. The way I look at it, between now and January 20, 2008 we’re going to need all the comic relief we can get .

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “More Portmatomes”

  1. Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle had a contest much like this for movie titles. My favorite was Seven Brides for Seven Samurai; Dances with White Fang is OK too.

  2. I remember several of Caen's other entries (which, by the way, were complete with plot descriptions):
    "A Star is Born Free"
    "Rachel Rachel Tora Tora Tora Curtain"
    and, last but definitely not least:
    "Run Silent, Run Deep Throat" (in which a large submarine is swallowed by a randy whale named Linda).

  3. I believe that "Seven Brides for Seven Samurai" and "Dances with White Fang" do not qualify because part of the first title in each is shortened.

  4. The titles have gone about as far as they can. I propose a contest to actually write the opening paragraph of Huckleberry Finneagan's Wake.

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