The topic this week is : Top 3 Favorite Titles.
Here are some of our contributors’ Top 3 examples of excellent titles- spanning across book titles, movie titles, painting titles, etc. Remember, we aren’t necessarily concerned with the content of the pieces behind these titles—we’re judging the book by its cover.
I could come up with tons but I’ll stick to music:
1) “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore,” The Smiths. Smiths/Morrissey song titles are always great but if I had to choose just one, that would be it. It’s a big throwdown of a title; you know exactly where the song’s narrator is at but don’t yet know any of the details until you listen to the song.
2) Trouble Will Find Me, The National. Another title that portends a lot but doesn’t reveal anything; no clues about what the trouble is and how it will find “me” but it’s a disquieting statement of belief.
3) The Curtain Hits the Cast, Low. This because it’s suggestive like the others but also a great summation of the worldview of Low’s songs; this isn’t my favorite Low album (Trust is) but I love this title so much for the visual it gives you that I used it for a ditched and now renamed novel.
1) For its associative sprawl, “All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother ” by Charles Mingus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJe_ZlFC084)
2) For the oblique (and assonant) illumination it casts upon the shape and dimensions of its plot, “Five Easy Pieces” by Bob Rafelson
3) For initially seeming like not much of a title, “Living” by Henry Green. (Green’s “Party Going” merits an honorable mention, especially in the context of Penguin’s nice omnibus edition of his three most famous novels, which reads like this: “Living – Loving – Party Going.”)
1) The Violent Bear It Away (Novel – Flannery O’Connor)
2) Always Crashing in the Same Car (Song – David Bowie)
3) Meshes of the Afternoon (Movie – Maya Deren)
… Honorable Mention: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
1) La Disparition (A Void) by Georges Perec
2) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
3) Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote by Jorge Luis Borges
1) Gravity’s Rainbow (novel, by Thomas Pynchon)
2) Total Eclipse of the Heart (song, by Bonnie Tyler)
3) The Element of Crime (film, dir. Lar von Trier)
[some honorable mentions, Finish Your Collapse and Stay For Breakfast – Broken Social Scene; Happiness and the Fish by Our Lady Peace]
1) The Orange Eats Creeps
2) At the Mouth of the River of Bees
3) Stories of Your Life and Others.
So many! I love titles. Here are a top three.
1) Tidal by Fiona Apple
2)Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
3)I Am A Woman in Love with a Woman…Must Society Reject Me? (50s lesbian pulp) by Ann Bannon. FTW
1) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – novel, Philip K Dick
2) Less Than Zero – novel, Brett Easton Ellis
3) Slaves of New York – Short Story Collection, Tama Janowitz
1) Atlas Shrugged – Never read it and I find the philosophy of Ayn Rand so reprehensible that I’ll probably never read this, but I honestly think it’s one of the best titles ever made.
2) My First Kiss at the Public Execution – The Blood Brothers are still one of my favorite bands, and I love this title so much that I even stole it for a story I wrote forever ago.
3) The Contortionist’s Handbook by Craig Clevenger or Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer – These were big influences on me in high school and I still love the way those titles sound.
Is it cheating if I choose a title I made? My current novel is called 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain and I’m afraid I’ll never be able to make it good enough for that title.
1) Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame – the title of a poetry collection by Charles Bukowski. I’m not a big fan of Bukowski, but this title is a poem in itself.
2) Y Gwyll – the Welsh title of the Welsh/English crime series Hinterland. The Welsh title means The Dusk, which illustrates the dark atmosphere of the series perfectly. It might also be one of the shortest words in Welsh.
3) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Has unfortunately spawned a whole slew of books with similarly long and pretentious titles.
As for me, I’ve stopped titling a lot of my recent creative stuff altogether, ostensibly out of a sort of “they are what they are, man” type of philosophy, but it probably has more to do with the fact that I’m really bad at titles myself.
1) Building Nothing Out of Something: a Modest Mouse album created out of scraps from other projects. The sheer modesty of it vs. the absolute amazingness of the album makes it even more fun to listen to. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMgr2yH6v8I]
2) Kon-Tiki: the goofball name of the rustic boat Thor Heyerdahl sailed across the ocean to try to prove that ancient people could have sailed from South America to Polynesia. Also the name of the book he wrote about it. Bonus points to him for being named “Thor Heyerdahl.”
3) A Simple Machine, Like the Lever: a new book by Evan P. Schneider. I thought about this title for weeks, before and after reading the book. It’s about biking, but also about a really simple character trying to figure out life in Portland. The title is metaphor and hope and longing all at once. Might possibly belong at number 1.
1) The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
2) House of Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari Kawabata
3) If Not, Winter by Anne Carson