Friday, October 24, 2008

Which character has the worst name in fiction?
Story by Guardian blogger Stuart Evers
Pic left:Inventor of Mr Flower: Paul Auster. Photograph: Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty

To me, it looked as if Paul Auster was having an uncomfortable time on stage. Appearing in the "America Decides" season at the Queen Elizabeth Hall earlier this month, he struggled with the opaque questions put to him, his answers accompanied by the "is that enough?" shrug commonly found in job interviews. It wasn't his fault; an usually spiky interviewer seemed determined to ask complicated questions and then appear dissatisfied with the answers. One question, however, seemed to perk up the packed auditorium: how do you come up with your characters' names?

It was a good question. Auster's characters frequently have names that are strange, almost surreal. Jack Pozzi, Mr Flower and Mr Stone in The Music of Chance, for example, or August Brill and Owen Brick in his new novel Man in the Dark. Auster was animated as he explained the process – or lack of one. Apparently, all of his characters come to him already christened; just as he knows their fates and foibles, he knows their names.
For Stuart Ever's full blog post link here.

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