August 26, 2011


In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” the heroine asks:

          “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

          By any other name would smell as sweet.”

(Yahoo Images)

She asks a good question and one a writer needs to consider when attaching a title to his work. A friend of mine doesn’t like the name of my upcoming book, “Trompe l’Oeil. Translated from the French, it means “fool the eye.”  Why give it a French name few will understand?” he asks. I tell him “Trompe l’Oeil” is no more French than Avenue or Rouge. He doesn’t buy it and thinks the title will hamper sales.

Titles are important to attract a reader.  Over the years, I’ve run across great ones that I’ve remembered long after a book’s plot. I like them because they make statements in themselves or pose conundrums.  Everyone has a list like mine, I suppose, but here are a few favorites: 

          ”Corruption in the Palace of Justice”

          “Waiting to Exhale”

          “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”

          “Grapes of Wrath”

          “Bonfire of the Vanities”

          “A Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe”

          “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

          “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”

          “Catcher in the Rye”

          “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”

As I list these titles, I realize my friend is right. “Trompe l’Oeil” would never make my list. What do you think?