Rogue shopping carts beat green Nazis on Friday in the battle for one of Britain’s most unusual book prizes.
“The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification” was named winner of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for oddest book title.
The book, written by Buffalo, N.Y.-based artist Julian Montague and published by Harry N. Abrams, beat “How Green Were the Nazis?,” a study of the environmental policies of the Third Reich.
“Stray Shopping Carts” received a third of the more than 5,500 votes cast by the public on the Web site of trade magazine The Bookseller.
“It’s a sort of strange honor to have,” Montague said. “But I welcome the publicity, and it’s nice that people are finding out my book exists.”
Montague’s work — documented on his Stray Shopping Cart Project Web site — offers a mock-scientific look at the varieties of lost shopping carts, from the simply discarded to the elaborately vandalized.
“Then there’s plow crush — where a cart gets crushed by a snowplow — and train crush,” Montague said. “It’s really a project about the power of language and scientific classification to shape the way we see the world.”
Runner-up for the prize was “Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan,” by Robert Chenciner, Gabib Ismailov, Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov and Alex Binnie (Bennett & Bloom).
The other finalists were “Di Mascio’s Delicious Ice Cream: Di Mascio of Coventry: an Ice Cream Company of Repute, With an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans,” by Roger De Boer, Harvey Francis Pitcher and Alan Wilkinson (Past Masters); “Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium” (Kluwer); and “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence,” by David Benatar (Clarendon Press).
Past winners of the 29-year-old prize include “People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It.”