Sunday, November 26, 2006

BOOKS: What's in a Name?

You may have read somewhere that Valley of the Dolls was originally called They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen, or that Hitler wanted to call his book Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice instead of Mein Kampf. When it comes to titling a book, the only constant is change. And, as the following quiz suggests, the task of finding the right name only gets more difficult with each passing year.
There really is a multiple-choice quiz in this New York Times piece, though you're not expected to know any of the answers. My favourite question is probably this one:
6. Bret Easton Ellis’s mentor, Joe McGinniss, had two pieces of advice after reading the manuscript of Less Than Zero. One was that Ellis should not use his middle name ("You’ll sound like such a twit"). The other was, "And you should call your book..."

a. Home for the Holidays
b. Winter Vacation
c. Season’s Greetings
d. Kids Today: Who Can Figure Them?
I don't know if the correct answer is (d), but I want so badly for that to be the case that I'm not even checking, in case I'm wrong.


Anonymous said...

I haven't read the piece you're talking about, so sorry if I bring one up that's already in the article, but here's a fun one.

How did Tolstoy originally intend to entitle War and Peace?

a) All's Well that Ends Well
b) The Year 1812
c) War - What is it Good For?
d) The Decembrists

landismom said...

Hah! My favorite are the three that dis Rick Moody. Not because I have any particular thing against him--I don't--just thought it was funny that they picked on him three times.

Doppelganger said...

Anonymous, PLEASE tell me it was c). Feel free to lie if you must.

landismom, I know! Strangely, though, it makes me want to read Rick Moody. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Alas the Tolstoy title was not c). In fact in one way or another the other three titles were correct. C) is a joke from Seinfeld. I don't remember exactly, but someone (probably Kramer) tells Elaine that Tolstoy originally intended to call War and Peace War - What is it good for?. Elaine then meets some important Russian scholar and tells him this alternate title, which angers him immensely (and humorously.)