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March 25, 2007

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Patti Whitney

What or how would you define the titles used by Tom Robbins? The last two of his I read were, VILLA INCOGNITO and FIERCE INVALIDS HOME FROM HOT CLIMATES. I am familiar with his odd style and titles, so I picked it up automatically, but what would someone unfamiliar with his works, feel or find in these titles to draw them in, not to mention the quick synopsis on the back, without that, what is one to expect?

PJ Parrish

Barry,

Love the way you articulated this. If you don't mind, can I use it in my workshops? Crediting you of course.

gregory huffstutter

Thanks again for the insight, Barry. Good thing I spent the weekend scheming about alternate titles.

Nat Sobel

Barry, Sometimes even a good title like Empire Falls [not the original title,by the way,] can cause you problems. When Rick was in Spain for the publication of that novel, he had a big turnout of media who had very tough political questions for him,none of them dealing with the plot of his novel. They hadn't read it, and supposed the book dealt with the fall of the American Empire

Barry Eisler

Patti, those are odd titles, all right, which, as you note, is probably the point with Robbins. To me, Villa Incognito doesn't have a lot of automatic resonance; Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates feels quirky, which I guess is the point. I haven't read the books, so I don't have an opinion about whether the titles might acquire resonance.

PJ, I'd be honored. Many thanks.

Greg, glad the thoughts were helpful... always good to have a backup plan!

Nat, that's interesting, and definitely does illustrate one potential pitfall of a bid for acquired resonance: before the book (and therefore the title) develops enough mindshare, it won't mean that much... and people like those journalists might fill in the wrong blanks. The acquired resonance title as inkblot test? Maybe...

Anyway, it's funny, now that I've read the book, not only can I not imagine a better title, I can't imagine any other title at all. No surprise it won the Pulitzer.

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