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October 23, 2005 - Judging Books by Their Titles













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Book Wrangler

October 24, 2005

By Bob Patterson

 

When we first saw the title of the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, our imagination provided an image of a Franciscan Monk, who looks quite a bit like the actor Sean Connery, driving up (in one of the 250 Tessa Rossa roadsters - Weren't just seven built?) and introducing himself: "Father Bond . . . Father James Bond."  It turned out that the book was about a lawyer who found spirituality (apparently after selling his sports car.)

 

Immediately, we put that book on our list of "Books With the Best Titles."  Someday we may actually buy the book and read it, but, for now, the title is its main qualification for enjoyment.

 

So, you ask, what are the other books on that list?  (Glad you asked because that way I have something to write a column about this week.)

 

My favorite metaphor of all time is the parable of the six blind Hindus inspecting an elephant.  The guy who touches the tail thinks an elephant is like a rope.  The guy who feels the trunk thinks an elephant is like a snake.  The man who strokes the ear thinks that an elephant is like a big leafy plant.  The leg makes another fellow think elephants are like trees.  The guy who examines the tusk thinks an elephant is like a sword.  The guy who pats the stomach thinks the elephant is like a brick wall.  Another of the books on this list of great titles is: An Elephant Is Soft And Mushy.

 

About twenty years ago (before Check Point Charlie checked out permanently), there was a book of cartoons with a cover that showed Soviet soldiers questioning a motorist.  The title was Why Are Your Papers In Order?

 

The Jean Shepherd book The Ferrari In The Bedroom had a title that was good but not great. 

 

Maybe President Bush can write a book on the Republican philosophy.  It could be titled Total Victory With A Skeleton Crew.  Republicans who are skeptical of Bush's methodology could see what it's like for the Democrats working for a Republican boss.  Downsize the staff, cut costs, and expect big successes.  It may not be logical, but it sounds good and hints at greater profits.

 

A Kick In The Seat Of The Pants, by Roger von Oech (who also wrote A Whack On The Side Of The Head), is about increasing creativity. 

 

Never Trust A Naked Bus Driver was written by Jack Douglas.  Note: This book was written by a humorist who was a regular during the Jack Paar era of the Tonight Show and not John Douglas, who helped form the FBI's profiler program and wrote books on that topic.

 

Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing. - by Robert Paul Smith - was a best seller during the fifties.

 

Amazon.com has a page of funny book titles:

 

I Still Miss My Man But My Aim Is Getting Better by Sarah Shankman - How could you miss with a title that good?

 

My Daddy Was A Pistol And I'm A Son Of A Gun by Lewis Grizzard. 

 

Cracker Ingenuity: Tips from the Trailer Park for the Chronically Broke by P.T. Elliott, E. M. Lowry - would be nice if I could afford to buy it.

 

Ruby Ann's Down Home Trailer Park Cookbook by Ruby Ann Boxcar might qualify to make my list.

 

Red Lobster White Trash and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America by Joe Queenan

 

The Redneck Grill: The Most Fun You Can Have with Fire, Charcoal, and a Dead Animal by Jeff Foxworthy, with David Boyd

 

A collection of short stories written by James M. Cain was published under the title of The Baby In The Icebox.  He also wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Piecre.

 

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks  [Editor's Note: Actually read that one, and it's good – AMP]

 

Cows, Pigs, Wars & Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

 

We've Been Through So Much Together, and Most of It Was Your Fault: More and More Brilliant Thoughts by Ashleigh Brilliant 

 

Hello, He Lied by Lynda Obst

 

Naked Is The Best Disguise by Samuel Rosenberg - We mentioned this book in a recent column about our collection of Nietzsche-related books.  As we recall, we bought the book just because we liked the title, then when we looked into it learned that it is a book of literary criticism based on the premise that, in the Sherlock Holmes stories, the character of Professor Moriarty was a thinly fictionalized version of Nietzsche, so we actually did some reading of this book.  Wouldn't it be funny to give a copy of this book to that famous young lady, who is getting a reputation for her driving skills that has some comparing her to Maston "Last of the Great Crashers" Gregory, the famous race car driver?  Isn't she always trying to slip past the paparazzi unnoticed?  Just think of the stunt she could come up with after seeing the title of this book?

 

Regular readers (AKA the loyal dozen) know that a recurring motif for this weekly feature in Just Above Sunset online magazine are items about life "On The Road," so we will mention a site devoted to that very topic.

 

There is a web site that lists many book titles derived from the works of Shakespeare

 

Thornton Wilder has said "Literature is the orchestration of platitudes."

 

The disk jockey knows there are many great titles for country songs, and for this week's "outro" song, he will play one titled I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back In My Bed While I Cry Over You. 

 

At this point, it seems next week's column will be about lives that combined a military career with writing.  Until then, have a Lord Byron type week - "mad, bad, and dangerous to know."

 

 

Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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