Finding A Name

I’m trying to find a title for the novel I am working on. “Alice Green,” the name of the main protagonist, is the working title, but I’m looking for something more evocative than that. The title of my previous book I am most happy about is Stones Gathered Together, which is explained in the first piece in that collection.

Here are some titles I really like: Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace) which is one of my favourite books and I have written about here. This title comes from the line in Hamlet, “a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy,” where Hamlet is referring to Yorick, whose skull he holds as he speaks; How To Live (Sarah Bakewell’s book about Montaigne); A Tale for The Time Being (Ruth Ozeki).

What I like about these titles is that they relate, sometimes subtlely, to what the book is about. So I’m looking for a title for a book about resistance to global capitalism and love and loss, family, being a good person, saving the planet and so on.

Given that I’ve been reading all of Shakespeare, aloud with a friend and we have only five plays to go, you’d think I would have come up with something, but no, though I have some hope for a word or phrase from The Tempest.

I’m about to read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; maybe that will give me something. There’s another year or two to go before I finish writing the book, so it’s not urgency that’s creating the niggle, more that I want a handle for my mind to hang this large project on that tells me more than that single name.

When I think of a title I like, though it may of course change, you’ll be the first to know.

PS News today that Doris Lessing has died. Her Martha Quest novels and of course The Golden Notebook, were very important books for me. And her scifi series, starting with Shikasta, got me reading science fiction in a small way. You can read her Nobel Prize lecture here.