During a conversation over yonder at Idlings, Dave Lull shared a link to one of the most interesting interviews I’ve read in a long time. Really, the whole thing is worth reading, but this part made me literally laugh out loud:
Plus, the first time around, my book was excerpted for a magazine, only the magazine altered many of my sentences to make them more sensational, and kept my name on the byline. When I objected, I was told, by the publishing company, “Well, Sam, we can pull it, but, remember, we’ve made an investment in you and we need to see an economic return on our investment. etc.”
As in, the subtitle of my book.
Muscle, as a title, I love.
But the subtitle, “Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder”? Are you kidding me?
When the editor called me up to tell me that subtitle, she cooed into the phone, “But Sam, it will make readers think of Rousseau!”
25 years later, and not one human being on this planet has ever said to me, ‘Sam, I love the subtitle. It’s so very Rousseau!”
Rummaging briefly through my memory and Amazon, I find a few other sterling examples of the “Confessions of a…” genre of book titles. A curious bookseller. A Buddhist atheist. An economic hit man. A hockey parent. A sociopath. A gay priest. A funeral director, a public speaker, and a yakuza. An investigative reporter, an advertising man, and a video vixen. I can certainly believe that an English major-turned-editor thought it was just oh-so-clever to reference Rousseau (not Augustine?), that all her friends would approve of her learned wit, but the truth is, well, first of all, Rousseau should be forgotten altogether, but secondly, when it comes to clichés, “Confessions of a…” might as well be “It was a dark and stormy night.” It is a desiccated mummy of a cliché lying exposed in the Sahara of imagination. There is not one ounce of juice left in it. For the love of God, stop it.