Monday, January 17, 2011

The Power of a Great Title

I was innocently perusing the aisles of Family Video with the fiance, when he noticed that Shaft in Africa is on sale: $2.95 for the movie by itself, or 2 for $4 if we found another movie that doesn't rent well from the 2 for $1 section. Because I was feeling indulgent, like Mildred Pierce, I decided to get my fiance what he wanted & hope that he wouldn't kill someone & blame it on me later.

Obviously, we HAD to look for another movie. I mean, why pay an extra 95 cents when you can pay an additional $2? That's right - we're saving the American economy, people.

As we continued searching, I came across this:

I showed it to the fiance, who was all: "We have to get that!" & since I agreed, we did.

Now, I haven't SEEN Stripped to Kill yet, but with a title like that, it's obviously pretty freakin' hilarious. & so it got me thinking about titles.

I literally bought this movie b/c the title promises so much enjoyment being added to my life. Unfortunately, I pretty much suck at titling my stories - I am way too unoriginal to come up with a gem such as Stripped to Kill. Often, however, unless an author has an arresting cover (which, let's face it, authors basically have no control over. & by basically, I mean definitely), the title of a work is one of the first things the public sees.

So if I have a crazy-fun romp of a tale wherein the protagonist caves in to any & all road rage before having her car taken away by parents who finally decided to parent & is then subjected to the whims of being chauffeured by someone with even worse road rage... but just title it ROAD RAGE... it probably won't reach the audience intended, or as vast an audience as it could receive.

Does anyone have any suggestions with regards to titling projects?

Maybe next time, I should write down adjectives describing my project on slips of paper and randomly draw a predetermined number from a hat, then smush them together into a title. Or insert the word "ninja" into all my titles, especially when there are no ninjas in the story at all. Yeah. I should probably totally do that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Murder Mystery Mayhem!

I recently finished reading The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino.

Scheduled to be published February 2011

When I began the novel, I had no idea what to expect, other than that it was a mystery, it revolved around a murder, and it was supposed to be "really good."

I used quotes around "really good," though it's really a paraphrasing, b/c I like a great mystery as much as the next person, but I don't think that I necessarily look for the same things in a mystery to cause me to qualify it as great. (Say that last sentence ten times fast on camera, post it on YouTube, and you'll be my hero. & probably suffering from lack of oxygen.)

In general, however, when I think of a mystery, it is a puzzle which the reader, as well as the protagonist, is supposed to solve.

This book wasn't like that.

In this book, in fact, I didn't particularly feel that there was one specific protagonist. There were many characters whom I grew to care about, the detective, perhaps, least of all.

The Devotion of Suspect X revolves around the murder of a man named Togashi, the ex-wife whom he was seeking, the neighbor who is infatuated with the ex-wife, a few detectives, and a very smart physicist-assistant-professor at a local university. The book feels like a battle of wits, an elaborate chess game from which only one man may emerge the victor, waged between two men of genius (infatuated neighbor Ishigami & physicist-asst-prof Yukawa).

It is so much more than that, however. As I said, you grow to care about the characters, and I feel that this book, particularly towards the end, really shows the difference between logic and emotion. Much of the discussion in the book is so logical, that it could quickly devolve into an almost sociopathic view of a murder. Higashino does a very good job, however, of reminding the reader that the discussion involves humans, and that all people matter, regardless of how much personal interaction occurs between them.

Overall, I felt that this book was a solid read. I particularly liked the ending. I also enjoyed the intellectual discussions.

I did not feel the push to read this book that sometimes occurs from reading thrillers where a THE-SUSPENSE-IS-KILLING-ME-I-NEED-TO-KNOW-WHAT-HAPPENS-NEXT often consumes the reader and causes voracious page-flipping and staying up into the wee hours of the night. I am not sure if that is due to the translated nature of the book, however. At times, I felt that the translation was different - inevitably, of course, the translation will be different, but at times, there was a jarring effect that a reader does not want to feel.

Still, if you're a mystery fan, or a genius fan, this book is definitely worth reading.