Nattering About Novel Names

Book titles! They’re important, and the best of them can be quite memorable.

Some titles say a lot about what’s in the novels, as do War and Peace and Crime and Punishment in summarizing Leo Tolstoy’s and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s respective masterpieces. Others tease you with their intriguing nature (many examples a few paragraphs below).

Titles can be funny, serious, long, short, evocative, descriptive, clever, slangy, punny, and more. They can be drawn from unforgettable phrases in the earlier works of other authors. They can just be the name of a place (as with Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Henry James’ Washington Square, and many of James Michener’s novels). Or they can include the year in which the novel is set (witness George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey). Or the name of the protagonist, or a description of the protagonist (such as The Vagabond by Colette, The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison — whose main character is invisible metaphorically rather than in an H.G. Wells-like way). Titles can even tell you the order of a book in a series — as with D is for Deadbeat, the fourth of Sue Grafton’s “alphabet mysteries.”

I finished that excellent Grafton novel late last month, and followed it with Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. I’ve read about a third of Jorge Amado’s book so far, and the title is of course intriguing because one is curious about who the second hubby will be. The first spouse, a charismatic/irresponsible gambler, drops dead early in the masterful/sometimes-humorous/sometimes-erotic work.

Among many other novels with intriguing titles are Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Kathy Eliscu’s Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess, Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, Anne Lamott’s Blue Shoe, Amanda Moores’ Grail Nights, H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, and Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist, to name just a few.

Novels with the name of the protagonist or co-protagonist comprising all or part of the title? Countless examples, including Jane Austen’s Emma, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote, Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, George Eliot’s Silas Marner, Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith, Jack London’s Martin Eden, Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, Herman Melville’s Pierre, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway… Titles containing a person AND place? L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables comes immediately to mind.

The aforementioned approach of using memorable phrases of past works? W. Somerset Maugham took the words Of Human Bondage from Benedict de Spinoza’s Ethics. John Steinbeck’s title The Winter of Our Discontent came from Shakespeare’s Richard III. Jane Austen’s naming of Pride and Prejudice may have been inspired by those three words in Fanny Burney’s novel Cecilia. The ancestry of Aldous Huxley’s title The Doors of Perception was a line in William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell — with Hell the place Satan sang “Light My Fire” when learning that Huxley’s nonfiction book in turn inspired the name of The Doors rock band. (That last fact is in the Huxley chapter of my new literary-trivia book, linked to at the end of this post.) And Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 created a phrase!

(Ms.) Lionel Shriver has written a book with a slangy title (So Much for That) and a punny title (Big Brother, about an overweight sibling who wasn’t born in 1984).

Then there are titles that I think are misleading or kind of boring. For instance, the titular character in Rob Roy is not the most prominently featured person in that Sir Walter Scott novel. And Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story title is rather “blah.”

The Black Tulip has a title that makes you wonder whether the novel will be a snooze to read, but Alexandre Dumas spins an exciting tale of a contest involving said flower.

What are some of your favorite or least favorite book titles, and why?

By the way, if you’re desperately looking for some laughs in these tough Trump times, I recommend two hilarious new nonfiction humor books by friends of mine — and both have excellent titles. They are Barb Best’s The Misery Manifesto: A Self-Help Parody for the Self-Absorbed and Dawn Weber’s I Love You. Now Go Away: Confessions of a Woman with a Smartphone.

My new literary-trivia book is out! Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time is described and can be purchased here.

In addition to this weekly blog, I also write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column — now with Baristanet.com, which covers Montclair, N.J., and nearby towns. The latest weekly column is here.

149 thoughts on “Nattering About Novel Names

  1. Dave now I am into Walter Mosley and going slow because enjoying every sentence he writes. I did the same with Dragon Trilogy as well.
    Mr. Mosley has unique titles and well as character names, Feather his daughter, Frenchie her dog. Then there is Fearless Jones I met him in Charcoal Joe now I see few books are of him. Can`t wait to find them.

    Mosley nattered with colors on book titles in Easy Rawlins books …Devil in Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty ,A Little Yellow Dog, Little Scarlet, Little Green, as I am reading Rose gold.
    The previous one I read was Charcoal Joe his last Easy Rawlin books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great that you’re enjoying Walter Mosley so much, bebe! I definitely want to get to more of his work after having read two of his novels on your recommendation. Excellent writing, terrific titles, interesting and interestingly named characters, etc.!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another writer who used colors in titles was John D. MacDonald, who wrote the Travis McGee series back in the years 1960’s to the 80’s. He wrote other books, but he’s best-known for those featuring this PI who lived on a houseboat moored at a marina in Ft. Lauderdale. I think he wrote 21 of these alone, and they were great. My favorite title of his is “The Green Ripper,” which was how one of his clients interpreted someone in her her family talked about The Grim Reaper.

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        • “The Green Ripper” — that’s a great, word-playing title, Kat Lib! And it’s interesting/appealing when authors have certain title themes cutting across their novel series or canons.

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  2. Least favorite?

    Have never given it much thought, but off the top, I’d say “Too Late the Phalerope”, which struck me as so soppy a phrase I’d never want to be seen with the book to which it’s attached in my hand– and that’s despite having been quite moved by “Cry the Beloved Country”…

    Favorites: “The White Goddess”, “The Mystic Rose”, “The Golden Bough”, “Red Harvest”, “The Financial Lives of the Poets”, “The Emperor of Ice Cream”, “The Big Sleep”, “The Gilded Age”, “Sanitorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass”, “The Street of Crocodiles”, “The Celestial Railroad”, “The Shadow Out of Time”, “Ancient Sorceries”, “Venus on the Half-Shell”, “Aim Low, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”.

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    • Thank you, jhNY, for listing many excellent titles and that one dud.

      I read “The Big Sleep” for the first time a few months ago, and that IS a great name for a novel — dramatic, slangy, etc. The three words in that title are mentioned in Raymond Chandler’s book (forget if it was part of a conversation or in the narration), which is always a nice “aha” moment when reading a novel.

      And titles don’t get much better than H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time”! Except maybe “Aim Low, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies.” 🙂 Love it!

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  3. Dave , good evening , received my highly anticipated book ” Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time”.today !
    First I turned to page 153 ” A Renaissance Man” Rabindranath Tagore. Tells me what a detailed research you have done.
    This should be a great book for students studying English Literature

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  4. Hi Dave, this is my umpteenth time to post anything on this website. I must be having the same problem as Brian Bess has been having. My first thought on this topic is of a novel written by Richard Farina, “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.” I read this back in college, partly because of the title, which became my mantra for many years. I was also very fond of his two albums he recorded with his wife Mimi (sister of Joan Baez); and I’m not sure whether I bought the book because of his music or vice versa. When he was at Cornell, he met Thomas Pynchon, “who later dedicated his book Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) to Fariña, described Fariña’s novel as “coming on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch… hilarious, chilling, sexy, profound, maniacal, beautiful, and outrageous all at the same time.” He also was friends with Bob Dylan, and he and his wife toured at some point with Dylan and Joan, being part of the folk music scene at that time. The title of the book is from a line in a blues song, “I Will Turn Your Money Green,” by Furry Lewis. (Love the title and his name, as well). 🙂

    Sadly, Farina died in a motorcycle accident two days after his book was published, just after leaving a book-signing event.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Darn — these posting problems are unfortunate. Sorry about that, Kat Lib. Glad your excellent comment FINALLY made it.

      “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me” is a terrific title — funny, clever, depressing… There was also a 1971 Doors song with a similar title, but Richard Farina’s 1966 novel came first. Or actually the Furry Lewis line came first!

      Farina definitely was very much a part of the 1960s folk music/counterculture scene. So many people connected with that scene and time (through the early ’70s) died young.

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      • I guess my last comment crossed with yours. As far as my posting problems, nothing strikes fear into my heart like “call the help desk,” but surely someone at Word Press can help me — maybe? I know the problem isn’t on your end!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I guess our comments did cross, Kat Lib. 🙂

          Let me see if I can find a help desk number. As I mentioned before, I’m not sure if WP takes calls from commenters as opposed to bloggers, but worth a try! Back in a few minutes…

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            • Thank you for that info. When I get my courage up, I’ll contact that website, but I hope you know that I wouldn’t do this for anyone but you, Dave. 🙂

              Good news! Your book arrived today! I’m going to give my sister a copy when I see her sometime this week and another to my best friend, who’s supposed to be coming for a visit next week. It’s funny, but Bill was asking me today, as the “literary expert,” what author coined the phrase “banana republic” for a crossword puzzle. I said, “I know, I know, because I just read it on Dave’s blog;” however, I actually had to go to your last column to confirm that it was indeed O. Henry. What a fount of knowledge you’ve bequeathed to us all, so thank you once again!

              Liked by 1 person

              • I wanted to mention one other book, which has become the mantra of my later years, “Things Fall Apart,” by Chinua Achebe, another book that I bought for the title alone (which is currently languishing on my to-be-read bookshelves).

                Liked by 1 person

                • “Things Fall Apart” is one of the great novel titles, Kat Lib! I guess that was originally a Yeats line, wasn’t it?

                  I read “Things Fall Apart” years ago, and didn’t find it especially interesting despite its stellar reputation. As Nigerian or Nigerian-born novelists go, I prefer Wole Soyinka (“The Interpreters”) and Buchi Emecheta (“Second Class Citizen”).

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              • Hope that contact URL somehow helps you resolve the problem, Kat Lib. And thank you very much for your loyalty to this blog despite the posting snafus.

                The rest of your comment made my day! Thanks so much for the kind words. Glad the copies of the book arrived — and that one fact in it has already been useful for a crossword puzzle. 🙂 Wow!

                Liked by 1 person

                • Yes, again. somewhat strange that Bill and I were at the Goodwill today, and while going through books, he handed me a hardback copy of W.B.Yeats, “Selected Poems,” which I purchased for $.50. Of course, if it were truly spooky, the poem “The Second Coming” would have been included in this collection, which it was not, unless I’ve somehow missed it.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • Sue, I also read somewhere about The Doors song coming before Farina, but considering the fact that Farina died in 1966, and the L.A. Woman album with that song wasn’t until 1971, I have to give credence to The Doors having appropriated that song from him or Furry Lewis. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kat Lib, I must apologise as when I read your original comment, I thought it said that the title was borrowed FROM The Doors, not the other way around. I guess that’s what happens when you read things after bed time! But 1966 definitely predates 1971, and both you and Dave say that the book came first, so that’s good enough for me!

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              • True, 1971 BC would come before 1966 AD, however that would make The Doors a LOT older than they already are! And they wouldn’t have had access to all the things that they borrowed from (Lewis, Huxley, etc.)

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                • Ha, Sue! I guess if the Doors actually lived back then, “Light My Fire” would have been a plea for the only way to get warmth and cook food! And they would indeed have had to borrow from different sources — perhaps whichever dinosaurs were writing poetry at the time… 🙂

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      • I’m going to go with Furry Lewis for precedence, as he recorded “I Will Turn Your Money Green” in 1928– and the line is therein.

        (I also like the Lewis title plenty, FWIW.)

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        • jhNY, I had a strong feeling that you were going to weigh in on the Furry Lewis reference, and you didn’t disappoint! If I remember correctly, I believe Farina himself did a cover of this song. While I can usually listen to any music genre, there are those that are more difficult for me and blues is one of them. I put it down to having been through a major depressive event almost 30 years ago, although I love folk music and that can be just as sad as well.

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          • Though by 1968 retired, Furry Lewis was, for most of his life, employed as a garbage man in the city of Memphis TN. It was in support and sympathy with the strike by the garbage men of Memphis, nearly all of them Black, that inspired Martin Luther King to march there– and where he was killed.

            I met Mr. Lewis in 1969, by which time he looked much like the photo accompanying the youtube recording of “I Will Turn Your Money Green”– a bit frail but up for a good time, perhaps a bit more sometimes than he was able to handle. Crowds of well-meaning yet unknowing white kids at blues festivals seemed to unnerve him, as did his own age-imposed limitations on guitar.

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      • Re “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me”: I think, had it not already been taken, and had Farina lived, that a good title for the second installation of the memoir would have been “Somebody Up There Likes Me”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Now that I’m finally on a roll with posting a few comments, I wanted to add that the title of the book was borrowed by The Doors, one of my favorite bands, on their “L.A. Woman” album in 1971. I also forgot to mention that Farina died in 1966, and Pynchon was best man at his and Mimi’s wedding. Also, their two albums were “Celebrations for a Grey Day” and “Reflections in a Crystal Wind.” Their best-known work is “Pack Up Your Sorrows.”

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        • I went downstairs to find the CD I had which included both collections, but couldn’t find it. I know it’s there somewhere because I was listening to it not long ago. Anyway, one of my favorite Farina songs from that album was “Children of Darkness,” which Joan Baez recorded on the album “Joan,” that’s one of my favorites. I did remember that many of the Farina’s songs on the two albums were instrumentals. Mimi played guitar, but Richard played dulcimer.

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    • Loved you post Kat Lib. Very interesting tidbits! Thanks for sharing. I did not recall Joan had a sister and will look more into that history. I too recall Richard Farina’s “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.”. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad you grabbed the Steinbeck “The Winter of our Discontent”; he did this (pulling a title from another work of literature) a lot, and my other favourite (book and title!) is “In Dubious Battle” (from Paradise Lost, of course).

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    • Thank you, Faith! You’re so right about Steinbeck taking several of his titles from elsewhere. “Of Mice and Men” from a Robert Burns poem, “The Grapes of Wrath” from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”… (Actually, Steinbeck’s first wife thought of using the latter phrase.)

      I didn’t realize the phrase “In Dubious Battle” was from “Paradise Lost”! I guess it has been too many years since I read that poem… 🙂 Thanks for that information!

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    • Utterly Off-Topic Dept.:

      Perhaps we might call Donald Trump The Winner of Our Discontent. The ref to Richard 3 is darkly appropriate, only our new president is possibly more twisted…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I always liked a book on my mother’s shelf, which I have now, called ‘The Man Who Was Thursday.’ The books such as Ms Austin’s ‘Emma’ with one name titles seemed like they were taking a chance on it being successful and that name would become hers, such as Cher or Oprah. If the books had not sold well and she had not been a good writer, those little titles would have faded out of sight. But then we’ve all read books that had titles that grabbed us by the throat and then the story disappointed. In her case, I guess ‘a rose by any other name….’

    I probably think too hard, but ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ seems more about the growth of the Lady Chatterley than about her lover, or her husband for that matter. I suppose in Victorian times it stood out as shocking and helped attract readers 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the excellent comment, Pleasant Street! “The Man Who Was Thursday” IS a great/intriguing title. Reminds me of Jasper Fforde’s appealing novels starring “literary detective” Thursday Next (a woman).

      Interesting that Jane Austen called her novel
      “Emma” rather than “Emma Woodhouse”! And, yes, some titles are better than the novels themselves — and vice versa.

      Also, interesting thoughts by you about the title “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” which I haven’t read. But I did recently finally get to D.H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” — which was impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I greatly appreciate the re-blog, Mike! Thank you! I also posted a comment on your blog.

      While my column basically looked at book titles from the viewpoint of readers, what to call a book is indeed a HUGELY important decision for an author to make.

      Thanks again!

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  7. The Elegance of The Hedgehog. Also The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-that’s a mouthful!

    For this week: a Happy Passover and Happy Easter, respectively, to your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Two terrific titles, Michele! Ha — “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is indeed a mouthful, literally and figuratively. 🙂

      And a happy holiday or happy holidays to you, too!

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  8. Hi again 🙂

    When I was about sixteen, the movie “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was released. I swore that I would never watch anything that sounded so ridiculous. Then the TV series was made, and I fell in love. In one episode, Buffy has just started college, and is feeling a little overwhelmed. She meets a fellow freshman who says he carries a copy of “Of Human Bondage” as a type of security blanket. Buffy gets a bit flustered and says she’s trying to cut back on porn. I kind of needed to know what the book was about, and added it to my list, and of course Maugham’s novel is terrific. So thanks to Buffy for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never watched the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series or movie, but one has to love that fun, campy, schlocky title. 🙂 And that’s hilarious/fascinating information about the “Buffy”/”Of Human Bondage” connection! Thanks again, Susan, for recommending that I (finally) read that excellent Maugham classic.

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    • Sue, I don’t think I knew (or forgot?) that you are a fellow Buffy-phile. In fact, I was just watching an episode last night from the 2nd Season on DVD. I’m on a mission to re-watch the entire series, as well as “Angel,” not quite as great as Buffy, but still quite good. My dog Willow was named that for many reasons, but number one was my love for the character of Willow, and her evolution from computer geek to a girlfriend of a werewolf to a witch to a lesbian to a dark witch. I know it sounds weird, but somehow in this alternative universe, it works because of an incredible cast and the writing, especially of creator/director/writer Joss Whedon.

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      • Kat Lib, every time you say things, I just like you more and more 🙂 I would definitely remember you being a Buffy fan, so it mustn’t have come up yet. Though I’m surprised that I never figured it out given your dog’s name! One of the things that I love about Joss, is he managed to make all of those things work at the same time. Just because Willow became gay, doesn’t mean she wasn’t still a geek. And even when she was dark, she was still Willow.

        Dave, sorry if I take over your blog. I really am a big fan of Whedon, and can’t help myself when it comes to raving about “Buffy”. I think you would have really liked it. Though it is a bit dated now.

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        • Sue, I know, it seems like we’ve got more in common than we thought, which is really nice! I saw a reunion of the original cast just last week, and the big question was whether Buffy was more suited to be with Angel or Spike. Any thoughts on that? Also, I completely agree with your assessment of Willow’s character.

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          • I saw that there was a reunion a little while ago, but haven’t actually seen any details. I don’t know if I’d want to. The show was terrific at the time, but I’ve moved on. Having said that, I always preferred Spike over Angel. Not necessarily as the relationship with Buffy as I think they were too different to compare. But William / Spike’s character arc was much more interesting than Liam / Angel’s. Especially in the later episodes of “Angel”. Would love to hear what you think 🙂

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            • Sue, the reunion show was actually rather interesting, and the only regular who wasn’t there was Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). I can’t believe it was the 25th anniversary! The only one who looked very different was Dawn (Michelle Tractenberg), but she was quite young when she first started on the show in the 5th season. They all laughed about how Buffy had this sister living in their home for 4 years and making no reference to her at all. I suppose I was more of a Spike fan than Angel. Perhaps it evolved from Angel’s own show, where I thought he and Cordelia made a great couple — she was a great character on both shows, but she really did shine with her relationship with Angel. As you can tell, I’ve never really moved on from these shows, because I put them in somewhat of the same category as Harry Potter and other fantasy worlds.

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              • I’ve definitely not moved on. I rewatch them quite regularly, and can still quote entire passages. There are still so many things that make me cry, despite having seen them dozens of times. I think I did see a few pics of the reunion, and was surprised at how different Amber Benson looked. I’ve seen Michelle Trachtenberg on a few things, so I’m used to her being grown up. Re Spike and Angel, you say that you prefered Spike over Angel, and then went on to mention his relationship with Cordy? I’m going to assume that you meant that you’re more of an Angel fan? (Until you point out that I mis-read your comment like I did with The Doors!) I completely agree about Cordelia though. When you watch the show, the characters develop with so much subtlety. And then I get to the end, and start again from the beginning, and it’s always quite startling to see just how much they changed.

                And silly, silly cast members. They didn’t notice Dawn because she wasn’t there yet. She was only there in the future when she was inserted into their past so they can REMEMBER noticing her, but they never REALLY noticed her, because she wasn’t there 🙂

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                • Sue, my last comment wasn’t phrased very well, but I did grow to love Spike, especially through his character’s evolution. However, I loved Angel when he had his own show and moved on from Buffy.

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  9. Hi Dave,

    I should be in bed by now, so please forgive me if this post doesn’t make sense. Off the top of my head, some favourite titles include “Catch-22” which has already been mentioned, “The Raw Shark Texts” which is absolutely as quirky as it sounds, and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” which I always have to look up as I somehow get the words in the wrong order. There are a few books on my TBR list which I’m very much looking forward to, partly because I know they’ll be great, but also because the titles sound so intriguing. These include “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court”. I think a big ‘name’ title that you overlooked is “The Brothers Karamazov”. I can’t wait to find out who they are and why they’re worth writing about.

    Since we’re still very much on the topic of literature trivia, I’m sure you’re aware that Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was originally called “Men who hate Women”. I think I prefer the published title, however the original was certainly fitting.

    Congrats again on the publication of your new book, which has both a catchy title and terrific cover. I can’t wait to get my copy. I also love the title of this week’s blog. Nattering is a great word!

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    • Your comment is completely coherent, Susan. 🙂

      Thanks for naming some terrific and/or offbeat titles of books you’ve read or plan to read. It doesn’t get much better than “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”!

      “The Brothers Karamazov” is definitely a classic “name” title. Three fascinating, VERY different brothers — and their despicable dad.

      I didn’t know “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” originally had another title! I agree the title eventually used is better, though the first one is indeed unfortunately as accurate as can be.

      And thanks for your kind words about this blog post’s headline, my book’s title, and my book’s cover! Much appreciated!

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    • Hi Sue , I did not know that about the title of Dragon Tattoo.

      Last night I was totally incoherent, I was in ipad reading NYT where I write my 2 cents in another name. In the article about the Chinese doctor treated inhumanly , I wrote about Trump`s press secretary Sean Spicer thought I was writing in that article.

      “Have mercy on Sean Spicer, man misspoke.
      Let him keep his job , he could be replaced by Kellyanne Conway.”
      until I saw them posting. I was waiting for being ridiculed but some smart-ass but sigh of relief was not 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi bebe,

        I’m sure we’ve all made the mistake of posting the wrong thing in the wrong place. I hate finding typos in my posts after it’s too late to fix them 😦

        I’m surprised that the original title of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” isn’t more widely known. I never in a million years thought that Dave would learn something about literature from me! And yes, while the original would have been unfortunately accurate, I think it also wouldn’t have given enough credit to the storyline that didn’t involve the abuse of women (or to Blomkvist who is definitely one of the good guys).

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        • Hi Sue, typo, I am the typo queen , particularly when I am in my ipad if I am not watching they change to word for you.
          You are so right about the title Blomkvist is a great guy and Lisbeth would give her life for him. The ending left open for promises but unfortunately Stieg Larsson passed away.
          Tells one nothing in life is guaranteed , do the best you can for today.

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  10. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are some of your favorite or least favorite book titles, and why? —

    I kind of like Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” and “Tropic of Capricorn” because both books are sort of steamy.

    And I love Peter L. Bernstein’s “Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk” due to its allusion to hubris in connection with financial-market operations.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, J.J.!

      I’ve never read Henry Miller, but those ARE two excellent titles of his you mentioned and humorously riffed on.

      “Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk” is also memorable. Descriptive, quirky, and more.

      Hubris and financial markets almost always seem connected… 😦

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  11. Interesting post idea! I’m reading Paul Beatty’s book that just won the booker prize — The Sell Out. The title is a little more obscure — especially compared to his previous book that evokes its subject a little more in the title: “White Boy Shuffle”.

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    • Thank you, Afternoon Sufficed!

      Great example of how one author can come up with two two very different kinds of titles. In Paul Beatty’s case, both titles are evocative/intriguing in their way — albeit different.

      Like

  12. I’m having difficulty getting the blog to take a comment again so I’m resubmitting mine with this statement, thereby making it a ‘new’ comment.

    ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ is one of the most perfect titles and perfect for that particular novel.

    Of course, Phillip D. Dick was a master at creating provocative titles:

    ‘Flow My Tears the Policeman Said’
    ‘Now Wait for Last Year’
    ‘Dr. Bloodmoney’
    ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’
    ‘The Transmigration of Timothy Archer’

    To name just a few

    Tom Wolfe created similarly evocative titles, many of them from those same swingin’ 60’s years that Dick was writing:

    ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’
    ‘From Bauhaus to Our House’
    ‘The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby’
    ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’
    ‘The Right Stuff’ – a title, like ‘Catch-22’, where anytime it’s mentioned, people know exactly what it’s referring to.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Brian! Sorry you were having some posting issues.

        You’re absolutely right — Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe were masters of memorable titles. Great examples from both.

        I guess “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was the work that inspired the “Blade Runner” movie. And, yes, “The Right Stuff” became a major catch phrase!

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        • ‘Blade Runner’ was the first of MANY film adaptations of Dick’s work and the only one he was aware of before he died. ‘Do Androids Dream…’ was the primary one that I was aware of, primarily because of that title, although I’m sure I saw an original paperback of it in the late 60’s with a bright psychedelic cover.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, unfortunate for the rarely affluent Dick that his work spawned popular movies that came out after he died. There was also the “Total Recall” film based on his short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” and, more recently, as you know, his “The Man in the High Castle” alternative-history novel was turned into a TV production.

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    • Catch 22 is one of my favorite book titles and as you point out, everyone understands the phrase at any moment used. One of those from my youth that gained widespread awareness from the movie, if not the book alone. I’ve always loved the title “Fried Green Tomatoes.” It evokes such fond memories of actually trying them for the first time, as a child, and loving them. Then later on it became my favorite movie. The music from that film lingers, hauntingly. The film made those very actors and that very book a strong, popular, memorable story. The author is as unforgettable as the book and film are. A popularity and memory, something akin to Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.

      Good post and good article from Dave, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad you liked the post, hopewfaith! And thank you for the excellent comment!

        “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” IS a terrific title — evoking food, a sense of place, and more. Also a terrific novel. I’ve read most of Fannie Flagg’s books, and I think she’s an extraordinary writer — as is Joseph Heller with “Catch-22” (the only novel of his I’ve read).

        I would definitely like to see the “Fried Green Tomatoes” movie one day.

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  13. Two thoughts: 1. Thanks for mentioning our friend Kathy Eliscu’s book. 2. The word “nattering” inevitably leads me back to Spiro Agnew’s complaint about the press as “nattering nabobs of negativism.” In 1972 I spent several days on the Agnew campaign press plane following him around (Connecticut, Wisconsin, New York, God-knows-where), given that he was the presidential campaigner then because Richard Nixon was hiding in the White House because of Watergate. The only new insight about Agnew I gained on that trip was that he had a very broad nose. Imagine that.

    Liked by 1 person

          • That IS unfortunate, Brian. Politicians do almost always get the credit when using the words of their speechwriters. I wonder how many politicians actually write their own speeches rather than perhaps edit someone else’s words. Lincoln, I guess, for one. Heck, I’ve read that Theodore Sorensen wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage,” even though JFK got full credit.

            I don’t think it’s well known that William Safire wrote the words that Agnew said, so no way you would have necessarily known. 🙂 I used to write about newspaper columnists, so I found out that way when Safire had moved on to The New York Times op-ed page.

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    • Bill, I’m happy to have mentioned Kathy’s funny/quirky novel, which I enjoyed a lot.

      Yes, the word “nattering” does bring back memories of Spiro Agnew. Not positive memories, either, but he certainly seems better than Trump. Which is not saying much…

      Ha — your memories of Agnew’s nose. But impressive that you covered that campaign!

      Like

      • In the DC area, I was trying out for a gig as a singer in a punk band, around 1978-79, and as so often happened then, the try-out took place in the bass player’s parents’ house. Imagine my mild surprise when, as I scanned the rumpus room and its contents, I saw a box of metal rulers on which was printed “Agnew for Baltimore County Executive”! I Turned out the black-jacketed and surly four-stringer’s dad had done PR work for the future Veep, and the rulers were an item of promotional detritus handed out during the campaign. I asked for one, but was refused. If I’d been an actual punk rocker, I would have stolen it anyway. I wasn’t; I didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

          • ” Amazing how nonconformist some children of conformist parents (like that PR flack for Agnew) can be.”

            Sorta. The black leather jacket and curled lip look? The uniformity of rugged individualists, I guess. See Elvis, Jailhouse Rock and Marlon Brando, The Wild Ones for role models.

            Liked by 1 person

        • jhNY, I should mention that there aren’t many (if anyone) people who actually talk about a rumpus room. I’d forgotten that term for many years so thanks for the blast from the pas! 🙂

          I’ve probably mentioned here before that I’ve got an ashtray from my brother’s when he received an ashtray from Nixon’s campaign. It states thanks for being a “Young Leader,” signed by Dick Nixon. Little did he know that my brother would become a draft resister during Vietnam.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I’ve got a medallion of William Henry Harrison, with a highly caesaresque rendering of the general on the front, and a log cabin in front of which stands a cider barrel on the reverse— found it when I was 8! It too shows signs of age….

              That’s the earliest and first bit of campaign memorabilia in my possession, but as you’ll see in my reply to Kat Lib, I’ve got more…but not a lot more…

              Liked by 1 person

          • As I lived in the DC area for a while, it did not surprise me to see such stuff as the Agnew ruler hanging around. I am, thanks to dating the daughter of an assistant postmaster general, the owner, not necessarily the proud owner, of a bronze medallion of Nixon that was given to the aforementioned assistant by the man himself. And from an old roommate who lived earlier in an apartment above a caterer’s, I also own a few plastic champagne glasses (with detachable stems) from Nixon’s second inaugural, complete with presidential seal!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Interesting memorabilia, jhNY! One certainly doesn’t have to agree with the ideology related to a collectible in one’s possession. Heck, I still have a couple of Reagan placards I was sent as illustrations when I was writing a story about the 1980 presidential campaign.

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              • Once again, I may have posted this before, but the time after the major Moratorium in Washington, DC, against the Vietnam War, that I went on (driving from Austin, TX, to DC in a school bus with no toilets or sleeping arrangements, but it was still an amazing event), I was at a student march and rally in UT at Austin. For whatever reason, a correspondent from the weekly “The National Observer” that my father subscribed to showed a crowd listening to a speaker prior to the marching, a photo in which perhaps 2/3 or 1/2 of my face showed up, but my dad picked me out right away. Good news is he and my mom were OK with this, and Dad saved a copy of the newspaper which I’ve kept somewhere ever since.

                Liked by 1 person

                  • Yes, I know — the one guy I knew on that trip asked me early on, “What would your parents think if they knew you were taking this trip to DC?” And I replied truthfully that they did know because I had to ask them for the $60 to cover the costs for this trip.”

                    Liked by 1 person

    • Five great, out-of-the-ordinary titles, Kira! Thank you!

      Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for one, had very interesting names for most of his novels — in addition to “Love in the Time of Cholera.” “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” “The General in His Labyrinth,” “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” etc.!

      Liked by 1 person

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