Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Problem of Names

‘But they will think it’s porno!’ said the publisher.

‘But it’s my name!’

‘Then you’ll have to use a pseudonym.’

‘Like hell I will,’ I replied. ‘I’ve waited years for a chance to see my name in a book shop. I’m not going to hide behind Margaret Flippyhackle or John T. Moustache. What’s wrong with Chip Dale?’

‘Porno…’ said the publisher, stuffing my finished manuscript into her bag. ‘I would imagine that some shops would even refuse to stock it with a name like that.’

She was about to stand up but I couldn’t leave the meeting without resolving the issue.

‘Chipendale Monroe,’ I suggested as a compromise.

‘Sounds like an American president. And a bad Democratic one at that…’

‘Chip Pearl?’

‘A brand of toothpaste.’

‘Chip Waters.’

‘Too much like a bluesman from the old Mississippi.’ She sat back down. ‘You need to go for a radically new name. Something that sounds unique yet bland. Sean Marvin.’ I rolled my eyes. ‘How about Matthew Robbberts. We’ll play on the mystery of why your surname has three ‘r’s in it.’

She was clearly not thinking creatively. ‘Norbert Huskins,’ I said, believing I was onto a winner. ‘A novel by Norbert Huskins. That has a certain charm to it, don’t you think?’

‘Norbert? You don’t look like a Norbert.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I look like a Chip, which is oddly what I am.’

‘Look Chip, my dear, I understand your frustration. But we can’t be selling you with the name Chip Dale. Nobody will take you seriously with a name like that. It’s going to be hard enough to sell a nine hundred page novel set against the backdrop of the Belgian kipper industry.’

‘Archibald Clinker. Stanley Krinkle. Arthur P. Mucklebeer. Ernst Gunst. Terrence Wriggle. Norman Clutterbuck Jnr…’ I fell sobbing to the table. ‘What about Hector Sparrow?’

The publisher looked at me with a tear in her eye. ‘Poor Chip. Something as simple as a name and you fall to pieces.’

She was right. It hadn’t been the weeks of polishing, proof reading, and corrections that had broken me. It was the fact that I’d dreamed of seeing Chip Dale’s name stuck between those of Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens. I sobbed for a while, muttering the occasional name which sprang to mind, but after a while, I looked up and found that the other chair was empty. I paid for my meal and walked miserably from the coffee shop. I headed to the station for my train back to Bangor. I’ve got a few months of searching for a new name, a new identity, but I know it won’t be easy. Gabby wants me to take a Romanian name but I’ve started to compile the list though, as you can see, I’ve not got very far. Henry Brusque. Victor Kripple. Saul Bellow. Simon Onions. John Updike. Randolph Mercy. Philip Roth… Philip Roth? Not bad...

10 comments:

David said...

Chip I have just finished reading a short story by a German writer. It might be just the name you are looking for you and sounds more Jewish than Phillip Roth. The novelists name is
Lion Fuchtwanger.
..What do you think Chip? Do you like it? It sounds both strong ,strangely suggestive& possibly a bit dangerous too.

elberry said...

How 'bout Martin Amiss?

Shades said...

Chipolata Dale?

David said...

Chip, I am seriously worried about you.What has happened to your friendly responses? Come on Chip...cheer up. Did the cat get your thong?

Big Chip Dale said...

So sorry, David. Life is getting in the way. Contrary to rumours, I'm not always at my keyboard. Lion Fuchtwanger? The name rings a bell. I think I've read something of his. Chip Fuchtwanger sounds good.

Elberry, doesn't sound believable.

Shades, better but makes me sound like a woman.

David said...

Chip,so good to hear from you. How about taking the Phillip from Roth and the FuchTwanger from Lion...and making the name
Phillip FuchTwanger for you.
It has a certain ring to it. What do you think? Does it suit your style?

Mopsa said...

Chippy, you stick to your guns/name - porn, as we all know, sells in megabucketloads. Not to me. Obviously.

Oh, and it might be a weird blogger glitch but having clicked to see who "David" is, it bounces to my very own page....we are not one and the same.

Sean Jeating said...

Lion Fuchtwanger, of course, makes a difference to Lion Feuchtwanger.

In your very case, though, Chip, I think nomen should be omen.

What's about Tiger Furchtwringer or
Jaguar Fruchtbringer?

Personally I'd order any books by
Grabby Feuchtthong.

Good luck!

jaypar said...

good blog again

Ms Baroque said...

Chip, as it happens, Henry Brusque is a very dear old cousin of mine on the distaff side. There was a falling-out years ago and his grandfather changed that whole side of the family's name so they couldn't be associated with the Baroques. (Originally he merely dropped the 'a', and changed the 'o' to a 'u' - but they say that Henry's grandmother was so disgusted by the whole spat that when they were in the solicitor's office signing the papers she surreptitiously added the 's' - and so it remains to this day.

I'm sure Henry would be delighted if any friend of mine wanted to borrow his name in the cause of Literature!