|Poor child, has the worst character name ever|
Today’s entry appears on the Guardian Books Blog, and is a complaint (rant) that sometimes authors make really bad choices when they are naming their characters. Sometimes they are unfortunate or unlucky (Titty and Dick Diver), and sometimes they are ugly (Phlox), and sometimes they are misleading. The subject gets a good going over here, but more examples always welcome in the comments.
This is part of the Guardian piece:
It might seem unreasonable to complain about the names authors choose for their characters – it's their choice after all. But some writers could clearly do with a little help.
Take Swiss author Joël Dicker's international bestseller The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. His policeman is called Sergeant Perry Gahalowood – plainly a name made up by a non-native who thinks it sounds American. As this thriller has literary pretensions, perhaps it is a tip of the hat to Louis-Ferdinand Celine, who made up the totally-wrong name O'Collogham for a British character in his London Bridge.
Daytime TV watchers who have just finished catching up on the 1974 series of The Pallisers are left with the same burning question which has confronted readers of the books. Why on earth did Anthony Trollope give a serious, formal and pompous man the wholly suitable name of Plantaganet Palliser, but then tell us his friends call him Planty Pall?
It's obviously a really terrible idea to give your characters names that are normal words in their own right, tripping up the reader time after time. We might be able to live with Will or Mark, but in Gillian Flynn's 2012 bestseller Gone Girl, there is a character called Go (short for Margo) and that leads to such infelicities as these:
Sharon turned to Go. They will go after Go. Go stayed. Go, an expert panel of one. Go said "Go home."
I have tried really hard to believe there is some metaphysical plot reason for calling her that – at one point board games are mentioned, and I hoped they were going to Advance to Go – but no. There is no excuse.
Guillermo Martinez is guilty of something similar in The Oxford Murders, where one of the major characters is called Arthur Seldom. So: "Seldom smiled", "he asked Seldom", "Seldom opened one of the doors" …
|Even she doesn't deserve the name Phlox|
The piece also features blog favourite Michael Chabon and his Mysteries of Pittsburgh, on the blog here, and E Nesbit and the important Five Children and It, featuring the young woman called Panty. Anyone got a better one than that?