Monday, November 16, 2009

Titles -- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I just finished reading a novel entitled Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. When I saw that title in the library, I had to pick up the book. How could I not? Titles sometimes work that magic on me -- The Yiddish Policemen's Union and When Skateboard Will Be Free are a couple others that drew me in. But most titles are pedestrian, dull or worse.

What about you? What titles do you find entrancing? How much thought have you given to the title of your own book?

7 comments:

  1. I do love a good title. The title is the reason I read The Virgin Suicides, before the hype. (There was hype, right?)

    Maybe my love for good titles has something to do with my difficulty in choosing one for my WIP.

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  2. I agree completely. I can't think of any good ones now but I know exactly what you mean. I tend to gravitate toward picking up books where the title is ambiguous. Hmmm, what's that mean? Lemme take a look.

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  3. I loved the title for "The Forest of Hands and Teeth". It's genius.

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  4. Yes, titles are good. The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night--nice! But I have to say that salmon fishing in Yemen....yuck! Just goes to show, you can't please everyone.

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  5. Sierra, it was the very absurdity of the idea of salmon fishing in a hot desert Arab country that made me grab it. It was an amusing book, though hardly great literature.

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  6. It seems like all titles lately are one word. Like we're trying to be all brief and mysterious or something. Mine is one word. I wish I could think of a better, more intriguing title that wouldn't give everything away, but I haven't been able to do so as of this posting. I like the titles your other commenters have suggested..forest of hands and teeth sounds really good. The Memory Keeper's Daughter was a good title, but what I liked even more was the cover of the book. That x-rayed little baby dress still haunts me.

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  7. When I was a kid, the title "Rumble Fish" intrigued me. A fish that rumbles? (Not exactly.)

    When I was a teenager, I read a bunch of Dean Koontz, and hated how all his titles were one-word and similar. Add in the similarities in his plots and I couldn't even keep track of which of his books I'd read.

    Recently this trend of titles like "The [Something Offbeat]'s [Relative]" are getting a bit redundant, which I'm not the only person to notice:

    http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/2009/11/prithee-inform-me-mctitle.html

    Titles that have double-meanings can either work or not. The novel I'm querying for has that kind of title, but it's fairly obscure. In some cases (e.g., "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks), the double-meaning fails, imo, because it's too elementary. Of course, I might have weighed the title more kindly had I not hated the book so much.

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