Thursday, June 18, 2009

My first window display, the fruit of a long obsession

One of the new window displays at Red Hill. My first contribution: the window of Possessive titles, a trend I can't stop ranting about. Especially with novels. But still, an admirable array of authors employ this sure-fire titling method. I, myself, might try it some day.

Why are possessives so popular in novel titles? Why, for instance, are there so many books titled along the same lines as The Memory Keeper's Daughter or The Bone-Setter's Daughter? The Time-Traveller's Wife or The Astronaut's Wife. Flaubert's Parrot, Correlli's Mandolin, and Wittgenstein's Poker?

I think one reason is that you can convey a sense of complexity in the possessive title, because in just two or three words, there is a distinct relation already at play. With family members there is one person who stands in direct relation to another person who still remains altogether different. And thus with relation stated, difference too is set in motion. Two histories, two identities connected yet distinct, all of it given in a simple title which brings with it too the promise of war, conflict, legacy and inheritance: the stuff of the novel.

I'm not sure though if this logic accounts for the ubiquity of possessive titles out there. But it is a step perhaps in a more illuminating direction.

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