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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Sounds Like a Good Book

At the Times Online Ben Macintyre considers the art of a good book title

The words that matter most in any book, of course, are neither at the beginning nor the end, but on the front cover. Would great books have become great books had they been called something else? In 1924, a young writer sent his latest novel to his publisher with what he considered to be a catchy and intriguing title: Trimalchio in West Egg. His editor loved the book and hated the title. “Consider as quickly as you can a change,” he wrote. F. Scott Fitzgerald duly considered Trimalchio, Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires, Under the Red White and Blue, The High-Bouncing Lover (a good title, certainly, but perhaps not for this book), Trimalchio’s Banquet, On the Road to West Egg (which would have made Jack Kerouac’s life more difficult), and Incident at West Egg. Finally, he settled on The Great Gatsby, which was just as well for him, and for us.

One Response to “Sounds Like a Good Book”

  1. David King says:

    I find this quite the hardest part of anything I produce. No doubt the need to be succinct is part of the problem, but that need is even greater, say in the body of a poem. I am very rarely happy with any title I come up with. I wonder if I am alone in this.

    jb says: Hi David. I never found this to be a problem, but some obviously do. Scott Fitzgerald’s anguish over Gatsby was apparent. So, I’m sure you’re not alone, but wonder if others will confess.