Monday, August 11, 2014

An ode to chapter titles

With all the recent talk of an Amazonian battling a hatchet and a TV writer copying scripts about a stolen flat circle from others I thought I'd keep it light and write about books again (novel concept I know).This isn't the kid of post that will get a lot of views but it is the kind I like to write.

I recently finished a book called Guns by Josh Myers that featured one of my secret (not any more) reading pleasures: chapter titles. It may be silly but I get a kick out of chapter titles and wish more authors took the time to use them. 

What do these little nuggets tell us? Are they random? Are they a clue as to what is coming up in the chapter? Is there anything at all to be divined from them? Maybe it's just me but I love 'em. Here's a couple of favorites that I pulled from the shelves.

Guns by Josh Myers

Spell with a Shell, There's Good Cud; Hate Hand Take the Soul Through Drizzle Ditch; Don't You Spoil the Air with All Your Craziness; Jitterbug (Junior is a); A Stillborn Mouthful; Sleep All Eyes Open; The Sun Rise On Sun Lie Down; Charm Enough to Choke; Eats His Words as They Die in His Mouth; The Streets Be Very Laid Out By Line; I'm a Wastrel; I'm a Sister's Boy; And Make Her Full of Secrets; All Spawn of My Devils Own Strumpet; Air, Light, and Labor Saving Devices; Till At What O'Clock is Ten Clock Strike?; Cry Dixie Hang 'Em High; Slid Away and Hid Himself in the Earth's Face; It Is Today, Couriers Day; And if the 'Sceeters Don't Get Him Then the Gators All Will; They Will Attack and Kill; Attack and Kill They Will; Get Someone Else, Don't Get Me; Panic Red and Barmy-Eyed; Broken as a Bird in Air with Strangers; Best Thing Gone Did Ever Have; Now You Remember, Children, How Blessed are the Pure in Heart; Nursed His Hate-Hand; Hide Your Hair, It's Waving All Lazy and Soft; Like Meadow Grass Under the Flood; Sleep Thee Well Better and Easy; Starry Shake and Awaken All the Guilties; Oh My Savior, Create Me To Die Alone; Think of Them Families' Souls; You're Sending Them to Their Deaths; All This Whole Carcass of Mine; Mercy Alive; All His Loss; All Not Was; Secret like Swans; With Gusto; Will Bleed Amen; Guns

Homeboy by Seth Morgan

Rings 'N' Things; Chinese Rithmetic; Never Bad Enough; The Fix; Black Man's Burden; The Sally; Rooski Business; Front Street; The Troll's; Street Court; Rings Takes a Tumble; Tank Court; Space; Man Down; Iron Butterfly; Space; Dead Heat; Venus De Milwaukee; Whisper Moran; Bon Appetit; Dead Time; Candy Roses; Silent Beeps; Writing On Jailhouse Walls; Arse Artis; Penitentiary Bound; Not Just Any Cap; Fence Parole; The Gray Goose; Punks Out For Revenge; Trick Bunk; Butterfingers; She Sells Seashells; Desperate Measures; Hotshot; Space Cadets; La Mordida; An American Original; Devilstone; Just Another Fat Man; The Stroll; Quarantine; Sunny Deelight; Maintenance Yard; No Pain, No Gain; Them Joneses; Lawyers Are People, Too; Like a Turkey Through The Corn; Sally Go Round the Roses; Jingle Bells; Jacks; Gasoline Shorts; Matter of Time; Z Block; What Fear Really Is; Dasypus Novemcinctus; The Fat Man Has No Clothes; The Kite; The Curse; Jailhouse Rock; Like, A New Career; Don't Look Back

The Death of the Detective by Mark Smith (ebook coming soon from Brash Books)

Bughouse Square; The Deathbed Confession; Pinochle; The Village; The Old Neighborhood; Nymphomania; The Poison Pen; Fathers, Sons, And Mothers; The Loop; Beer; The Magnuson Men; The Dark Mistake; Gangbusters; In Search of Wenzel; Black News; In Search of Rotterdam; The Airport; The Massacre; Catacombs And Beer Gardens; Escape!; Motives; The Death of Scarponi; The Death of the Duesenberg; Cops; Anatomy Lessons; The Detective  Agency; The Gold Coast; Black Angels; Shades And Curtains; The Death of Tanker; In the Grove; Chandler Discovers; The Mayor Speaks; Skid Row; The Death of Fiore; Fishermen; The Madhouse; The Funeral

In Pike by Benjamin Whitmer the technique used is one found more in visual mediums, where the movie title, show title, or episode title is taken from, or worked in to, the piece.

~ You ain’t nearly as big as I expected. ~
~ Iris looks at him like he’s grown a second head. ~
~ It don’t mean I like you. ~
~ Dingy and smoking and a lot smaller than it looked last night. ~
~ Set himself a fire? ~
~ I woke up on the floor two days later, with a headache like I'd smacked with a tire jack. ~
~ Lost in one of the short, cold patches of sleep that sneak up and sap him from behind. ~
~ The bulb of some purple black fruit in his palm. ~
~ Nothing worse than it already is. ~
~ His eyes like gasoline on oil and his thin lips drawn tight. ~
~ These memories contain their own engines. ~
~ She said you were a real hard case. ~
~ They reburied the one and carted the other off in crates. ~
~ I get lucky now and then. ~
~ They meet downtown, like a hammer and an anvil, flattening everything between them in the process. ~
~ Wendy’s eyes fire familiarly in her head. ~
~ Without any of the strangled hatred that turned it all bad. ~
~ Six hundred pounds of grisly fat, with slick infantile faces and girlish pale blue eyes. ~
~ Pike’d already have his .357 out, pistol whipping him until the skin hung off his face in bloody sheets. ~
~ It makes it easier that way. ~
~ Niggertown. ~
~ Her eyes like black nailheads hammered into hard black wood. ~
~ Whatever they’d been doing to the poor bitch, they'd been doing it a long time. ~
~ You can get away from a good upraising. ~
~ Like some kind of apes crawling out of the mud. ~
~ Like I ain’t fi t to eat with normal folks? ~
~ I’m looking for somebody that might convince me of it. ~
~ Not without compensation. ~
~ It makes you want to claw at the sidewalks. ~
~ Smiling a sad smile that twists cruel. ~
~ Like she was made combustible. ~
~ Either you’re a cop or you ain’t. ~
~ Still alive, curled up in the bathtub in his boxers. ~
~ He danced with one of the local girls. ~
~ Two of them hung up on me for mentioning his name in the form of a question. ~
~ He’s got all the equipment of manhood save the parts that matter. ~
~ I am not in the middle. ~
~ It’s all the same shit to me. I don’t believe none of it. ~
~ Th ere, I said it. ~
~ I know what you are, too. ~
~ Use the tongs. ~
~ They ain’t nearly as well hid as they like to think they are. ~
~ Superior fi repower. ~
~ Bogie yells, excited to have found someone lower on the food chain than himself. ~
~ I’ve done things here that created a kind of gravity. ~
~ Did we do something to you, mister? ~
~ I wasn’t exactly devoted. ~
~ Pike leads her eyes to the truck with the barrel of his gun. ~
~ I ain’t feeling bad about killing him. ~
~ You always have a choice. ~
~ The sun sheds her and she shrinks in her chair. ~
~ He knows he ain’t going anywhere. ~
~ Dragging their beer cart in a Sisyphean arc. ~
~ Pike is sad for the dumb thing. ~
~ Th e beating has taken his bowel control. ~
~ It’s a slight miserable thing of a nod, like a halfdead swallow trying to find its wings. ~
~ As though it has to pass through a very dirty windowpane to reach him. ~
~ There are some things AA doesn’t cover. ~
~ That’s various of you. ~
~ As though they’re surfacing from the black depths of an ocean. ~
~ That kind ends up dead every time. ~
~ There are places you can still be what you are. ~
~ I earn twenty-five dollars a day. And expenses. ~
~ Rory folds his hands in front of his face, tries a chuckle. ~
~ Derrick grins the kind of grin that makes his pacemaker work double time. ~
~ I don’t know as I’d follow her. ~
~ Tuning himself up for what’s to come. ~
~ Her lips are bloodstains against the white of her skin. ~
~ Prying her open, exposing her like an oyster. ~
~ Jack puts his hands on hips and stares up at the streetlight for a while. ~
~ The backs of their heads a wall to the world around them. ~
~ Go ahead and pick up a cue stick or something, if you want. ~
~ I’ll wait here. ~
~ It takes two. ~
~ It won’t last long. ~
~ The high hard sun above it all, burning holes into your brain. ~

In ...Go To Helena Handbasket Donna Moore is like a magician telling you the trick while doing it and still fooling you. No one understands the workings of a mystery novel better then Donna Moore and how to send them up.

Prologue: Why the Hell Isn't This Called Chapter 1
The Client, The Case, and a Recipe
Friends in High Places
Product Placement, Irrelevant Filler, and Crime-Solving Cats
Takes a Licking But Keeps on Ticking
Enter the Strong Arm of the Law
I learned Lots of Medical Stuff For This Book And, By George, I'm Going to Include It
If You Go Down to the Woods Tonight...
Let's Call in the Experts
Piling on the Suspects
Messing Up a Crime Scene
Random Acts of Senseless Violence
Turning Up the Heat Under the Protagonist
Tampering With the Evidence
A Pointless Personal Interlude in the Life of the Protagonist, or How to Up That Word Count
When You Run Out of Plot, Just Have Someone Come Through the Door Waving a Gun
It's Just a Scratch

How about you. Do like chapter titles? Have any favorites? Any other secret reading pleasures? If you haven't read any of the books what do the chapter titles tell you?


Anonymous-9 said...

I like chpater titles but I don't do them for my own books. Go figger. Thanks for a great article brian Elaine/Anonymous-9

Dana King said...

Ditto. I like to see them, but only ever used them once. I struggle with titles, and it was such a pain in the ass I swore, never again. I'd write my books without titles if I could get away with it.

Steve Weddle said...

yeah the ones in PIKE struck me as clever and unusual