12.30.2007

It's Expository Title Time!

Remember back in the Good Ol' Days™, when one had to actually read a book to find out what it might be about? When the title gave little or no clue regarding what you'd find within? Like A Clockwork Orange, or Nineteen Eighty-Four, or Lord of the Flies?

Those days are gone, folks! In today's Modern Society™, a busy Hausfrau has no time to dilly-dally over books whose meanings cannot be discerned instantaneously!

We here at Judge a Book By Its Cover are proud to bring you today's edition, featuring Harlequin Romance's line of self-explanatory expository titles, all seen by Maughta and me while we hit the grocery store this evening to stock up for our New Year's Eve soirée tomorrow night. The first course is Italian Boss, Housekeeper Bride:

Without having read the book, I'd guess that's our Italian hero on the left. He's likely the boss. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that at some point in our novel's denouement he's going to marry his housekeeper. That's probably her, on the right. Why they're consummating their marriage on the set of some low-budget 1970s' porno film, I dunno: the title gives no clue.

While we're on the subject of Italian romance heroes, what's better than a swarthy Levantine adonis with a ripped bod and gorgeous dark hair? How about a swarthy Levantine adonis with a ripped bod, gorgeous dark hair, and a shitload of personal worth?



As to the title: might we leave anything to the imagination? Whatever happened to subtlety, understatement, metaphor? Can we try to entice our readers with a hint of mystery, a soupçon of suspense? A well-chosen title can be quite a draw. I mean, would anyone have read Watership Down if it were called The Internecine Warring of a Bunch of Rabbits?

Once again, I'm betting that Giacomo, on the left, is Italian. And he's probably rich as Croesus, but inexplicably unhappy. The chick on the left danced into his life around Christmas time and got stuffed into the stocking he'd hung by the chimney with care. Now her zipper's stuck.

I wonder if he gets off on being called a "naughty elf."

Not to be outdone by the Italians, the Greeks have thrown a billionaire of their own into the mix:


Another Mediterranean Mammon, another lucky bride. At least in this case there is a scintilla of ambiguity in the title: what role does the baby play in the revenge? Has this here gold-digger had a baby by Aristotle Rastapopulos in order to blackmail him into marriage, or has the couple's one-year-old, sick to death of strained peas and early bedtimes, contrived to get the better of his hapless parents? Read on, to find out!

Until next time, your homework: come up with literal, expository titles for your favorite literary classics (ex.: Obsessive-Compulsive Sailor Goes After Big Whale).

Oh, yeah, and happy New Year!

20 comments:

Bryan R. Terry said...

Dad Goes Crazy, Hunts Family in Colorado Hotel (The Shining by Stephen King)

Oswald Kills Kennedy (Libra by Don DeLillo)

Orphan Finds Out He’s Wizard (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

Jerk Learns True Meaning of Christmas (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

The Pig is Stalin (Animal Farm by George Orwell)

Doctor Grr said...

The Persecuted Advertising Man with a Jewish Heritage and the Artist (as a Young Man) and Also Everybody in Dublin

The Guy that Went Crazy and Thought He Was a Knight and Tried to Help Everybody and Failed Like 23 Times

The Star-Crossed Lovers that Killed Themselves

eChuckler said...

On a semi-related note: I always hated the title of the children's book, "My Brother Sam is dead." (SPOILER) The climax of the book is that Sam dies. Like, they spend the whole book trying to stop it, when, in fact, we know he's going to die because the title of the book says so.
That book won awards, too.

Andreas Fuchs said...

Senior Citizen Goes Fishing, Comes Back Empty-handed.

Persian King Doesn't Kill his Wife (short stories).

Omnipotent Being's Baby Revenge.

World War 1 and Journalists Suck.

(Granted, the last one is kinda obscure.)

yellojkt said...

Rich swarthy guys are in. Who knew?

My tries:

Billy Pilgrim, Ex-POW, Comes Unstuck in Time by Kurt Vonnegut

Why War Sucks by Joseph Heller

Big Phony Rich Guy by F. Scott Fitzgerald

CuteLucca said...

Fantasy Races agree to Cooperate in a Ring Destruction Quest
---
Magical Wardrobe Sends Children to a Fantasy Land
---
Jewish Girl Hides from Nazis

kostia said...

Old Man 0, Sea 1

A Tale of London and Paris

Alice Has a Dream

Alice Has Another Dream, This Time About Chess

The Danish Prince Who Came Home for His Father's Funeral and Boy Was That Ever a Bad Idea

Snow said...

The third book is the start of the Greek Billionaire's apostrophe trilogy.
Book 2: The Greek's billionaire baby revenge.
Book 3: The Greek billionaire baby's revenge

If the Italian's a billionaire, why does he have to wait until Xmas to buy Viagra?

American (high school) literature classics:
Preacher knocks up single lady
White and black hicks float down big river
Waiting to bury mother's stinking corpse

Anonymous said...

These Two Kids Try to Kill God (But the Armored Bears Are the Coolest Part Anyways)

Sexy Sadie said...

Holden Caulfield Gets Kicked Out Of Prep School And Wanders Around New York City (A Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger) Wendy, Jill, And The Other Kids Make Fun Of Linda For Being Fat (Blubber by Judy Blume) Newland Archer Is Engaged To May But Gets A Crush On Ellen(The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton)

Richard Heft said...

I Made A Big Monster And It Strangled All My Friends (Frankenstein)

Peace And War And Peace And War And Peace (War And Peace)

The Columbo Pilot Episode Where Raskolnikov Kills The Pawnbroker

I Fell Hard For A Married Man (Jane Eyre)

Evan said...

It Really Sucks That I Have No Arms, Legs, Or Face (by Dalton Trumbo)

The Minister had Adulterous Relations and the Woman is Blamed (by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Some Witches Make Predictions And It All Comes True (by William Shakespeare)

talpianna said...

Well-Known Senator Foils Foul Fiend (The Devil and Daniel Webster)

Guy Kills Pregnant Girlfriend So He Can Marry Rich Socialite but Winds Up on Death Row Anyway (An American Tragedy)

Roger Ackroyd is Killed: The Narrator Did It (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)

A Steel Magnolia, a Gunrunner, and the Entire Civil War (Gone With the Wind)

Nobody Lives Happily Ever After (Wuthering Heights)

Over on The Lunatic Cafe for Romance Readers, we did a whole thread on The Worst Romance Title Ever (making it up as we went along):

http://tinyurl.com/29zyqb

Jessica said...

Three brothers talk about religion and philosophy and religion and philosophy and religion and philosophy and religion and philosophy and just so no one gets bored, the dad gets murdered, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Anonymous said...

"Who the fuck has any idea?" by James Joyce

Freezair said...

"The Pig is Stalin" actually sounds like a killer YA dramatic novel title. No idea what it's about, though.

My contributions:

Some Guys Get Drunk And High And They Travel A Lot (Jack Kerouac)

Psychokinetic Girl Really Has A Bad Prom Night (Stephen King)

Find Out Why Everyone Thinks The Number 42 Is So Funny (Douglas Adams)

Aparently The Antichrist Isn't Such A Bad Guy After All (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman)

Just Because People Are Scary Doesn't Make Them Evil (Harper Lee)

Rich Boye said...

Pompous People Withdraw From And Thus Destroy Civilization On Purpose.

One of Absent Father's Four Daughter Dies, The Rest Get Married.

Melodramatic Prince Goes Insane, Murders Stepfather.

Snarky Englishwoman First Hates, Then Marries Standoffish Zillionaire.

I Get Shipwrecked, But Learn The Joys of Enslaving Others.

Russia Gets Invaded, But Fights Back as The Aristocrats Have Affairs, For 1000 Pages.

I Screwed The Preacher So Everyone Thinks I Am A Whore.

Zealous Puritans Make Poor Judgements and Hang Innocent People.

It Turns Out That They Kill The Lottery Winner!

Watch My Portrait Age As I Ruin Lives!

French Spinster Destroys Her Family Because She Always Hated Them.

The Alien Conquerors Get Sick and Die.

Emo Poet Loves A Heartless Bitch Who Lives On A Moor.

Hooker Turns Thief, Then Marries Her Brother In Virgina.

I Thought Breadfruit Is Important, So My Crew Threw Me Overboard.

Loser Dies So His French Lookalike Can Live And Get Married.

Anonymous said...

Evil wizard tries to return and kill kid, kid foils him
Evil wizard tries to return and kill kid, kid foils him
Prisoner falsely accused of trying to kill kid, kid saves him
Evil wizard returns and tries to kill kid, kid escapes
Evil wizard tries to kill kid, kid escapes
Kid tries to kill evil wizard, evil teacher kills good teacher
Evil wizard takes over government, evil teacher was a double agent, kid kills evil wizard

Anonymous said...

Russians Regret Their Marital Decisions by Leo Tolstoy

Gullible King Misplaces His Trust, Leads to Disaster by William Shakespeare

War Hero Overcomes Obstacles to Return Home by Homer

Invisibility Leads to Insanity by H.G. Wells

Subjugated Citizens Fail to Defy Unstoppable Fascist Government by George Orwell

Future People are Eaten by Other Future People by H.G. Wells

Ancient Evil is Awoken by H. P. Lovecraft

Neurotic Superheroes Fail to Prevent Genius from Destroying New York and Averting Nuclear War by Alan Moore

Aliens Govern Evolution by Arthur C. Clark

Scientists Discover that Artificial Intelligence Has Unprecedented Quirks by Isaac Asimov

Misanthrope Makes Himself and Others Suffer by Dostoevsky

Barbarian Kills Things, Has Sex by Robert E. Howard

Jesus Had a Kid by Dan Brown

Unexpected Hero Defeats Evil by Fantasy Author

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Lea Petra said...

I check in romance novels at work. I have determined that they only have 30 working titles, they just change the nationality of the man, the marriage status of the woman, and say if she is a virgin, captive, mistress, or all three.