Thursday, 20 September 2012


When I saw the title of Naomi Wolf’s recent book, VAGINA. A NEW BIOGRAPHY, I thought her big V had decided to open up and tell all. But, no, it’s just a book-length announcement by the author: her cosmic, screaming orgasms are back. Well, congratulations, Naomi, and I think you’ve started a new trend, naming your book after a body part.

Now, VAGINA may be a bit shocking for the older generation, the ones who actually still read books. That’s why Hanna Rosin discreetly called her book THE END OF MEN. She could have called it THE ANUS OF MEN, but she didn’t want to give offense. Smart move, Hanna!

The authors of other bestsellers failed to catch on to the new trend. Or how do you explain that E.L. James called her sadomasochistic fantasy FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, when she could have named it after body parts, FIFTY LASHES OF GREY or simply HAMSTRUNG.

And I don’t understand how the author of the STEVE JOBS biography could have missed out on the obvious title: ADAM’S APPLE.

On the other hand, some titles are just plain misleading. Florence Williams’ BREASTS, it turns out, isn’t a biography of Hugh Hefner, founder of the centre-fold. It’s about breastfeeding and pollution. What a letdown. Or maybe I should say, what a BUMMER!

And Kathy Reichs wasted the title BONES ARE FOREVER on a novel, pre-empting its use for a biography of Lassie and other famous Hollywood canines.

Then there are authors who are too lazy to come up with their own body parts and just recycle old titles. Ian McEwan, for example, repurposed SWEET TOOTH, first used in 2009 by Jeff Lemire for his post-apocalyptic fable about a hybrid boy. McEwan’s book is a spy story and, according to reviewer Sutcliffe, like a cocktail, slipping down without trouble. In that case, he got the wrong body part. He should have filched the old bestseller title DEEP THROAT.

The idea is to focus on the main theme. For example, if Schwarzenegger or any of his geriatric co-stars on Expendables 2 decided to write an autobiography, they should definitely consider calling it WRINKLES. And if Nakoula Basseley Nakoula had stopped to think for a moment, he wouldn’t have given his video an irrelevant title like Innocent Muslims. He would have called it what it is: BRAINLESS or just plain SHIT.

Cheryl Strayed missed out, too, calling her account of a 1,100 mile hike WILD. I would have gone for SWEAT. And a hint to all you authors on the lookout for a winning title: My hunch is, bodily fluids will be the next big thing. Call your book BLOOD, TEARS, SALIVA, AND CUM, and you are bound to go to the top of the bestseller list.

1 comment:

  1. Being of that vaunted generation that still reads real books I agree. Shocking anatomical titles suck IMO!