In a Name

I wrote, below, of book titles that contrast with their content; Jakobi’s The Fake Ape being an obvious example (bearing in mind that it is a translation from the Hungarian). One might spend a merry afternoon compiling a list of further examples: Ramen Roo’s Charmed, for instance, or Lucia Raus’s Fog Falls Faintly, Over the Fields. The difficulty, however, is in weaning out the simply misguided titles from the subtly ironic. Pyetr Turgidovsky’s famous Delicious Air of Life is far too upbeat a name for the type of novel it is; therein lies its brilliance. For those who struggle to grasp the message, our favourite nihilist supplies a sub-title: The Ugly God-damned Wife. Now we see just what boat we’re in (a sinking tugboat).

Whilst we’re on the subject of book-titles – and, indeed, Ramen Roo’s Charmed – a word or two on the fashion for one-word titles. The winds of enthusiasm appear to be blowing around a recent publication by an American writer  (Franzen, I believe his name is) whose latest barrel of literary laughs goes by the name of Freedom. A brave, no-nonsense title, that. Amongst the other examples that spring, disappointingly slowly, to my mind are Roc Quarret’s Hewn, Pieter Herrson’s Righteousness and Simona der Wert’s excellent Lozenge. Surprisingly rare, however, these tight little titles, especially in the field of obscure european literature. I would, of course, welcome any other examples…


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