He Promised Me a Hatchet, He Promised Me a Rope of Pearls
Being a Tastemaker is an awful lot of pressure but I have assumed the judge’s mantle two years running, and if I cast it off now it was all for nothing. If I don’t list out the best books of the year, someone else will, and you might believe them and die believing the wrong books are the best books, and that would be my fault, and it would be me summoned to Hell’s antechamber to answer for why GOLDEN FIDDLE, IVORY BASSOON sold so well in the last month of the year when everyone ought to have closed up their eyes for thirty days to humor the dark earth anyway. I won’t have that on my conscience, not when it’s in my power to say I gave the public sixteen better alternatives. This wasn’t the best of years, but the year-rankings are not my responsibility.
—Here they are, the year’s best books. Call up your book-seller! If you order all 16 titles together and say I sent you, they will slip a dozen quail’s eggs into the parcel gratis. but you must say I sent you, or I can’t answer for what they might substitute.
1. Baron Roarcliffe Commands Your Awful Presence in Hell's Antechamber, Lady
2. A Little Tiny Fellow's Lost His Neckabout
3. Egg in the Breadbox, Whose Is It (Everyone Wants to Know)
4. I Have Four Brothers in the Evening, I Have Three Brothers in the Morning, I have Two Brothers at Tea-Time, I have No Brothers Just Now: Who Am I?
5. When the Ripened Acorn Splits Underground, My Godmother Hears it in Hell
6. Rabbits In the Beehive, Charming, Charming, Ha! Ha! Charming!—Half a Second—Where’s the Queen?—Call The Fire Brigade—Arrest Them All!
7. Nolpe's a Swinful Warbler
8. Alfred I Declare I Hadn't Thought It Of You, I Take My Eye of Pity Away, Now Comes My Eye of Sorrow
9. Bees for the Bank of England
10. In the Garden, Two Small Girls, One at Peace and One at Play, One is Frightened: Which One? Which One?
11. A Man Who Lived in the Darkness, and the Bears Didn't Want Him
12. The Moon Rose in Thirties
13. Vera of Geneva
14. He Promised Me a Hatchet, He Promised Me a Rope of Pearls, He Promised Me the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: And Now Come to Find He Wasn’t the Pope at All
15. Mister Eyebreaks, My Husband, Took a Fright and Lost His Wits
16. The Grass is My Forest, But I am a Fine Friend of Yours, Sophia Lazarus