UnBeige posted an item yesterday afternoon about a compendium of uncategorizable tomes called, catchily enough, Bizarre Books. The HarperPerennial production, assembled by Russell Ash and Brian Lake, celebrates classics such as How to Avoid Huge Ships and the amputee memoir From the Stump to the Limb. Some of them, though, just sound like they have weird titles; The Little I Saw of Cuba, for example, turns out to be a perfectly reasonable, if heavily illustrated, memoir of the Spanish-American War by combat photographer Burr McIntosh.
(Of course, the idea behind Bizarre Books is a familiar one; one of the books adorning the cover, Scouts in Bondage, has even loaned its title to a similar collection that focused solely on titles and covers, published last year in England and brought to the States last month by Simon & Schuster.)
UPDATE: Cultural historian Lynn Peril writes: “I have a copy of the original American edition of Bizarre Books (St. Martin’s Press, 1985). I picked it up at a thrift store—source of many fine bizarre books in my collection – sometime in the past decade or so. But what a difference a cover makes! The original clearly went for the “weird/wacky” as opposed to the “weird/venerable” vibe of the current edition. You also mentioned that Scouts in Bondage was the title of an English collection of covers and titles; Bizarre Books was also originally published in Great Britain.” Thanks, Lynn!