Thursday, May 25, 2006

Are we in agreement that really long book titles (more than four words) suck? Exceptions that don't suck?

Oh wait, I got one: THE BEDSIDE GUIDE TO NO TELL MOTEL -- but that's an anthology. Or maybe it does suck.

The one-two punch title -- vital?

15 Comments:

At 11:46 AM, Blogger François said...

Are we limiting ourselves to poetry books? Or can we name fiction books too? In the latter case, I will add "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "One Hundred Years of Solitude," "Love in Time of Cholera," and ...

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Reb said...

I'm talking poetry books -- but we don't have to limit ourselves to poetry book titles. Thanks.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger La Boheme said...

I don't know. I can understand the impulse toward a longer title. Sometimes it seems to me that trying to compress a collection down into one or two words is going to make those words seem corny, no matter what they are. A whole sentence as a title works against that encapsulation and forces the title's reader to take in a complete thought. (e.g., "Pity the Bathtub its Forced Embrace of the Human Form.") Not so much a title as a challenge. That's kind of audacious and I like it.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Two long titles I love:

Paul Guest's The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World

Christopher Davis's The Tyrant of the Past and the Slave of the Future

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Kitchen Press said...

Joshua Marie Wilkinson's "Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk"

Franz Wright's "The Night World and the Word Night"

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Kitchen Press said...

Also Jen Tynes' "The End of Rude Handles" (or do "the" and "of" not technically count?)

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Amanda Auchter said...

How about Matthea Harvey's "Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form?"

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Oh dear. Did I start this?

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger François said...

my next question is, what constitutes a long title? where does one start? four words?

oh, and i like to add "what narcissism means to me"

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Yes Jill, you started it -- all your fault.

No, I keep going back and forth and wanted to hear others' thoughts.

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger Ross White said...

Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross - Mark Yakich

That's the one that immediately comes to mind.

 
At 11:42 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Thanks everyone -- I also like "My Brother is Getting Arrested Again" -- so much that I keep coming up with too similar sounding titles.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Yes, long titles suck. I personally hold in major contempt any poet who foists a title longer than ... oh, wait. Crap. Strike that.... :)

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Jilly said...

The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger shanna said...

on my desk right now: this connection of everyone with lungs (j. spahr), some notes on my programming (a. berrigan), my brother is getting arrested again (d. fried), & some other kind of mission (l. jarnot).

the book on my desk with the shortest title, has a title so short, it's actually two words fused together: povel (g. kim)

i don't have any kind of arbitrary ideal length preference for titles. the titles shouldn't be impossible to remember, is all, and should at least stand up to the same kind of scrutiny as a poem title. something compelling enough to look interesting in a situation where the title is all you see, like on a shelf for a book, or a table of contents, for a poem. in those cases, the title is the only shot you've got.

i think pterodactyls soar again is fantastic title, btw.

 

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