Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crazy (or simply odd) novel titles

This post is in response to The Crazy for Books post for Aug. 14 and the Freebie Broke and Bookish Top 10 Tuesday.

Here's the question:
“Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles! If you can’t find any, feel free to find one on the internet!”
OK, I usually enjoy strange, esoteric books. So I'll give you a list of 10 (in no order):

1. You Must Be This Happy to Enter by Elizabeth Crane. Crane writes short stories filled with brilliant, looping sentences uttered by beleaguered female narrators. She'd be one of my favorite authors if only she wrote more. Another of her collections is called When the Messenger is Hot.

2. The Tetherballs of Bougainville by Mark Leyner. Before he started writing medical non-fiction, Leyner created some fantastic, outlandish tales (always about himself). His other works have equally inventive titles: Et Tu, Babe and My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. Tetherballs features a father who survives his own execution, only to enter a random, surprise-oriented execution program.

3. Vurt by Jeff Noon. British SF shines in this oddly titled virtual-reality yarn about a realm entered through drugs -- and a main character who's partly composed of the stuff. Vurt is short for virtual reality, but its status as a non-word makes it intriguing.

4. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino: This series of stories with no endings has a title that wraps around the book like wax paper – it’s a clue to the puzzle of this metafictional farrago.

5. The Three-legged Hootch Dancer by Michael Resnick. My daughter and I came across this paperback when we were going through my father's thousand-plus SF collection. I have no idea what it's about, but the cover is hilarious, and I'm going to read it. I swear. I'm sure it's satire, but it reminds me of that one stripper in "Total Recall."

6. Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson. A classic of avant-garde fiction, the title itself is a paradox: Wittgenstein was gay. The novel is a series of sentences that seem to tell a story about a woman who may be the last person on Earth as she recounts a journey to a beach house she's found. Or something. A difficult but rewarding novel.

7. The Unnameable by Samuel Beckett. Hey, Sam, if it was unnameable, then how come you gave it a name? Heh heh heh.

8. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link. I wish I had a dollar for all the people who thought this was a how-to book about magic. (Teaches me to bring books with strange titles to work.)

9. Old Filth by Jane Gardam. A wonderful novel, but you have to explain to passers-by that Filth is not a state of uncleanliness but rather an acronym -- Failed in London? Try Hong Kong -- which describes the career of the main character.

10. I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb -- how can you NOT want to read a book with that title?


Patricia said...

Old Filth, now that is an odd one. Visiting you via Book Blogger Hop. Following you now. Stop by and see what crazy title I chose.

The Well Read Fish said...

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard,
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat . . . those are some pretty good ones.

Beth D. said...

The Three-legged Hoouch Dancer title had me looking twice. Now I am going to see if I can find the cover.

Uomo di Speranza said...

We are always attracted to the oddities of Earth and bored by our own seemingly normal lives, are we not? Anyway, that Italo Calvino book looks absolutely phenomenal, so it will definitely be up on my Shelfari/Goodreads by the end of the day. And I would definitely add The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows to this list; it is a breathtaking novel as well.

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