Monday, 1 March 2010

50 - Ring. Ring.

I went through a bit of a crime fiction phase a few years back and one of the best I read over that time was James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice. More than being a simply fantastic novel, it has one of my favourite titles of any novel ever.

Along with Flowers for Algernon and The Catcher in the Rye, it was one of those novels I'd known about for years merely because of its unusual title. Wordy titles, to me, are far more appealing than short, snappy ones.

What's most intriguing about The Postman Always Rings Twice is that the title has no relation to the story whatsoever. There's no postman in it. Cain has said that it refers to his friend Vincent Lawrence who would always wait nervously for the postman to arrive bringing news of submitted manuscripts. He'd always know when the postman arrived as he always rang twice. This can be seen as a metaphor for fate and as suiting the lead character's situation in the novel.

Personally, I don't really care as I think an enigmatic title that has no bearing on a novel's plot is far more intriguing. The working title of my novel at the moment isn't particularly great but is pretty wordy and refers to an event no longer in the novel. Now it only sticks around because: a) I can't think of a better title and b) it's my poor man's allusion to The Postman Always Rings Twice.

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