Hope: A Tragedy was the first title I suggested to my editor. I really thought it was right.
“No,” he said.
My parents didn’t love me, so I have low self-esteem, and I agreed to keep working. These are some of the alternate titles I presented, and the reasoning for or against them:
The Diary of Anne Frankenstein:
My working title; I never really intended to use it—too Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters—but it had grown on me, and I mentioned it to my editor as I was finishing the manuscript. This caused him to proclaim a couple of “title rules” for this novel:
1) Nothing funny.
2) No mentioning Anne Frank.
Apparently, people don’t buy “funny” novels, and they don’t buy books about Anne Frank. Which is, ironically enough, pretty fucking funny.
It’s a Wonderful Ka-Pow:
Did I Ever Tell You How Unlucky You Are?
To Those About to Be Consumed by Flames:
I liked this title quite a bit, a play on the old expression “Westward Ho.” Kugel, the main character, wishes for nothing more than to be nowhere—a place with no past, no history, no wars, no genocides. My editor liked it as well, and began mentioning it to people, testing it out. It turns out young people don’t know that expression anymore. The poor dears were very confused. My editor was disappointed. I wanted to run to Nowhere even more than I had before.
There was a brief concern that they wouldn’t know who Anne Frank is, either, which, we decided, would be pretty fucking funny.
I do my best to stay out of bookstores because they make me want to kill myself, but apparently The X is a bit of a trend now. The Informers, The Intuitionist, The Imperfectionists. Et cetera. There was some concern it would be seen as that. I had a difficult time believing that things had gotten so bad that the word “The” was a trend.
“Like the Bible?” I asked.
“Keep working,” I was told.
The Lacerations and The Crematorians died for the same reason. Probably for the best, those. Read More