Patricia Smiley here...
On Sunday, I came upon a list of memoirs recommended by Christopher Buckley (William F.’s progeny), all of which sounded worth reading. His choices included:
Home Before Night by Hugh Leonard, an Angela’s Ashes type memoir about the author's childhood near Dublin, Ireland
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph by T.E. Lawrence AKA Lawrence of Arabia
Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves, about his experiences during World War I. (This book is tailor-made for Our J)
Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley
I kept the article because I’d like to read all of those books someday, but also because the titles make a promise to the reader. Some people have a gift for creating compelling titles that flow like poetry. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
Currently, I’m writing a novel featuring LAPD homicide detectives. Without a working title, I feel rudderless, but working with a bad title is almost as ruinous as no title at all. My working title isn’t optimal because an acquaintance published a book with that same name within the past couple of years. So the search continues for one that stands out in a crowd.
I’ve noticed some authors borrow from familiar clichés like hell bent, raw deal, or down and out (in Beverly Hills). Others use this trusty formula: The (something's) Apprentice or The (something else's) Daughter.
Places appear frequently in titles: Mystic River, Gorky Park, Angels Flight. The word "dragon" seems popular these days (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Some authors mix and match. Here’s one example, a book called The Dragon’s Apprentice. Sounds colorful.
I’m currently reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. The title suits the book admirably. These titles work for me, too: A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George; And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi; A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean; Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison; The Blue Religion, an anthology of police short stories edited by Michael Connelly.
Finding the perfect title is a balancing act.
So, what do you think about The Detective’s Apprentice? (just joking) The race for a title is still on.
What are some of your favorite titles?