As if it’s not enough work to brine or deep-fry or roast a turkey for Thanksgiving, some people go whole hog and make a turducken: a chicken sans bones stuffed into a duck sans bones stuffed into a turkey. Sans bones. I remember the first time I read about this strange bird, years ago in the New York Times. Each time that I thought it would be fun to try to make one, I remembered how much work it is to clean the kitchen after just one fowl-centered feast, let alone three. But this week I discovered a no-mess, no-fuss method for making turducken, using book titles instead of birds! In a brilliant flash of Twitter ingenuity, Doubleday Books started a hashtag hat-trick for bibliophiles: the literary turducken, or, to be precise, #literaryturducken.
Readers mix together three book titles to craft a zany new concoction. In my opinion, this “top tweet” from the Kansas City Star took the blue ribbon for cleverness, erudition, and wit:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Gone with the Wind in the Willows.
I jumped right into the fray, and Tuesday night, when I should have been sleeping, began tweeting as quickly as I could think of combinations. Here are a few from my own Twitter feed:
Play it as it Lays On the Road Under Milkwood
The Handmaid’s Tale of Two Cities of Salt
ABC of Reading Lolita in the Tehran Conviction
Then I thought I’d put a little spin on the game, playing with titles containing numbers and adding a long poem and a musical theater title into the mix:
The Threepenny Opera in Four Quartets at Slaughterhouse 5
This was fun! It didn’t involve chopping onions, and it satisfied my craving to be creative at Thanksgiving during a year when I wasn’t doing a lick of cooking.
I kept at it:
The Invisible Man and Superman It’s Superman!
I’m very fond of this next one, but disappointed in myself for leaving off the article in the McCullers’ title:
Ballad of the Sad Breakfast at Tiffany’s Naked Lunch Café
I raided the theatrical canon for this one:
Krapp’s Last Tape Measure for Measure of the World
I wrote a few more, and finally sleep won out. But the next day, during our long road-trip, I not only occupied myself in the car by adding more to the hashtag, I also got John hooked on the game. He devised this one:
‘Twas in the Heat of the Night Before Christmas the Iceman Cometh
I think that, on balance, the ones I came up with during the day were sharper than the ones I cobbled together while I was starved for sleep. What do you think?
A Farewell to Arms and the Man Who Knew Too Much and Came to Dinner
O Pioneers! How Green Was My Valley of The Dolls?
Death Comes for the Archbishop, the Man Without Qualities, And Ladies of the Club …
Beloved Jazz Song of Solomon
While I was playing—and admiring the literary zip of many other tweeters—I noticed that media outlets were also paying attention. Mashable wrote about the game, as did the Huffington Post. Katy Steinmetz of TIME magazine had a great one:
The Sun Also Rises As I Lay Dying On the Road
It occurred to me that if you’re not on Twitter and hadn’t heard of this phenomenon, this post could be my gift to you: you now have a new game to play on the long ride home after your visits with far-flung family.
I hope you and yours had a lovely Thanksgiving.
- 20 Awesome #LiteraryTurducken Tweets Mash Together Popular Book Titles (mashable.com)
- Literary Turducken: Thanksgiving Book Titles On Twitter (huffingtonpost.com)