Recently, the Washington Post asked readers to combine the works of two authors to create so-called "Merge-Matic Book" titles, accompanied by suitable blurbs. The results of the "Invitational" follow:
Second Runner-Up: "Machiavelli's The Little Prince" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic children's tale as presented by Machiavelli. The whimsy of human nature is embodied in many delightful and intriguing characters, all of whom are executed. (Erik Anderson, Tempe, Ariz.)
First Runner-Up: "Green Eggs and Hamlet" -- Would you kill him in his bed? Thrust a dagger through his head? I would not, could not, kill the King. I could not do that evil thing. I would not wed this girl, you see. Now get her to a nunnery. (Robin Parry, Arlington)
And the Winner of the Washington Post's Dancing Critter: "Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities" -- An '80s yuppie is denied books. He does not object, or even notice. (Mike Long, Burke)
Honorable Mentions: "Where's Walden?" -- Alas, the challenge of locating Henry David Thoreau in each richly-detailed drawing loses its appeal when it quickly becomes clear that he is always in the woods.
"Paradise Lost in Space" -- Satan, Moloch, and Belial are sentenced to spend eternity in a flying saucer with a goofy robot, an evil scientist, and two annoying children.
"The Maltese Faulkner" -- Is the black bird a tortured symbol of Sam's struggles with race and family? Does it signify his decay of soul along with the soul of the Old South? Is it merely a crow, mocking his attempts to understand? Or is it worth a cool mil?
"Singing in the Black Rain" -- A gang of vicious Japanese druglords attempt to beat the daylights out of Gene Kelly. However, his highly articulated footwork has no competition, defeating the wicked crime element and winning himself an Oscar in the process.
"Catch-22 in the Rye" -- Holden learns that if you're insane, you'll probably flunk out of prep school, but if you're flunking out of prep school, you're probably not insane.
"2001: A Space Iliad" -- The Hal 9000 computer wages an insane 10-year war against the Greeks after falling victim to the Y2K bug. Hackers finally do something good for a change by implanting an Anti-virus program which repairs Hal and all the IRS, CIA, FBI, Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force computers at the same time. The Greeks then suddenly realize that they have slept through the last 1000 years and are not prepared to give up their oil lamps and stone wheels quite yet.
"Rikki-Kon-Tiki-Tavi" -- Thor Heyerdahl recounts his attempt to prove Rudyard Kipling's theory that the mongoose first came to India on a raft from Polynesia.
"Jane Eyre Jordan" -- Plucky English orphan girl survives hardships to lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA championship.
"The Scarlet Pimpernel Letter" -- An 18th-century English nobleman leads a double life, freeing comely young adulteresses from the prisons of post-Revolution France.
"Lorna Dune" -- An English farmer, Paul Atreides, falls for the daughter of a notorious rival clan, the Harkonnens, and pursues a career as a giant worm jockey in order to impress her.
"The Remains of the Day of the Jackal" -- A formal English butler puts his loyalty to his employer above all else, until he is persuaded to join a plot to assassinate Charles deGaulle.
"The Invisible Man of La Mancha" -- Don Quixote discovers a mysterious elixir which renders him invisible. He proceeds to go on a mad rampage of corruption and terror, attacking innocent people in the streets and all the while singing "To Fight the Invisible Man!" until he is finally stopped by a windmill.
"Fiddlemarch" -- Emotionally dessicated medievalist Dr. Casaubon is transformed when everyone in the town reveals that they are Jewish and start to dance and sing a lot.
"Of Three Blind Mice and Men" -- Burgess Meredith has his limbs hacked off by a psychopathic farmer's wife. Three surgeons not only perform the necessary repairs, but relieve the stricken victim of his multiple cataracts and his white cane. Did you ever see such a sight in your life?
"Planet of the Grapes of Wrath" -- Astronaut lands on mysterious planet, only to discover that it is his very own home planet of Earth, which has been taken over by the Joads, a race of dirt-poor corn farmers who miraculously developed rudimentary technology and evolved the ability to speak after exposure to nuclear radiation.