Read in Ned: Quirky sells

Tom Lambrecht Nederland.  A time-tested formula for a successful book is subject matter that comes under the heading of “quirky,” which indeed I consider to be a minor literary genre. My definition of the term includes titillating idiosyncrasies, engaging rebelliousness and distinctively queer incidents, characters or obsessive behaviors, to name just a few. Each of these engage us (for better or worse) at a very deep level. Add a dash of the mildly or deeply macabre to further spice up the narrative, and presto, book sales.

 
Quirky works for events as well, so we shouldn’t be surprised at the success of our own Frozen Dead Guy Days. FDGD figures prominently in literature and even, cinema (local film director Robin Beeck’s Grandpas’s Still in The Tuff Shed stands as a fine document). Bo Shaffer (former caretaker and dry-ice delivery guy for Bredo Morstoel’s coffin) tells all in his book Colorado’s Iceman and The Story of the Frozen Dead Guy and there is even a mystery, Pamalla Stockho’s Too Many Frozen Dead Guys.

 
If you’re a bit jaded about FDGD and are searching for something fresh (and of course, quirky), the library’s copy of Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, might be of interest.  Published by the crew at atlasobscura.com, this hefty volume comprises nearly five hundred pages of curious and whimsical travel destinations from around the globe. From Galileo’s Middle Finger (preserved in a goblet in Tuscany) to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the Pitch Drop Experiment in Brisbane (next drop expected to fall in 2027) to the Self-Mummifying Monks of Shugendo, the book and website are your one-stop shop for all destinations quirky. Of special interest to bibliophiles is the Pagoda of the World’s Largest Book in Mandalay, which consists of 729 five-foot stone tablets inscribed with Buddhist texts housed in domed shrines flanking a lofty pagoda. A perfect field trip for any book group.

 
There is no need for an expensive plane ticket, however- with a hundred pages devoted to the US alone (with highlights like the Museum of Bad Art, the Cushing Brain Museum and the Body Farm), there are plenty of destinations that don’t require a passport. Although FDGD did not make it into the book, a nice article is featured on the website: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/frozen-dead-guy-days.

 
For those who fancy a different tune (but one that retains a casket riff) the Emma Crawford Coffin Race in Manitou Springs might be right up your alley. The event was inspired by the aforementioned coffin (buried at Emma’s request high on Red Mountain) which was liberated from the earth by violent flooding in 1912 and plunged down the canyon into town. The website article notes that the event is “a farcical day reveling in a darkly comic turn in a woman’s dying wish going unfulfilled …”

 
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

 

Tom Lambrecht is a Library Assistant at the Nederland Community Library.