Why Not Catch-21?: The Stories Behind the Titles

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9780711227965: Why Not Catch-21?: The Stories Behind the Titles
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Most book titles simply describe the contents of the book they are attached to. Crime and Punishment is about crime and punishment, and Brideshead Revisited is about revisiting Brideshead. But a small number of book titles have a rather odd, separate existence, almost as independent literary artefacts. The stories behind them are quite different from the stories behind the actual books. Winnie-the-Pooh, for example is to do with a swan on a pond at a holiday cottage. The Postman Always Rings Twice is about the travails of a screenwriter. And Catch-22 only got that way after a clash with another author, and via a route that included several other numbers.
In Why Not Catch-21?, Gary Dexter looks at 50 iconic books and explores the fascinating stories behind how they got their titles.

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Review:

These are fascinating, pithy chunks of literary history. (Good Book Guide)

A splendid and enjoyable piece of work. This Christmas... if no one buys this book for you, buy it for yourself. No literary lavatory will be complete without a copy. (Spectator)

This is one literary curio that's worth having... A brilliantly unique buy. (Easy Living)

Gary Dexter's gift is not only to uncover the stories behind the titles... but actually to shed light on the mysteries of literary creation. Dexter's tone is consistently, and never irritatingly, droll. There are a few books that try to be funny about literature and don't ever really get it right; Dexter always does. He has a fondness, and a gift, for the right kind of anecdote. And that is the chief joy of the book: its meticulousness in chasing down alternative histories of literature. He does not pretend to give us definitive answers where none exists, he allows us to revel in a multiplicity of suggestions, all of which are plausible; learning about them is a delightful way of undermining our certainties. Life is often rather more complicated than we imagine it to be. And as for Catch 22 - when one learns how close that came to being called something else - well, that's just spooky. (Nicholas Lezard Guardian)

Covering everythingfrom Plato's Republic to A Clockwork Orange, this provides both a fresh literary insight and even the occasional giggle. (Maxim)

Gary Dexter's highly enjoyable book of curios makes perfect bedtime reading and will enable you to amaze and impress everyone you meet with your erudition. (www.new-classics.co.uk)

Synopsis:

Why Not Catch 21? is an expansion on Gary Dexter's long-running Sunday Telegraph column. Each of its 50 chapters focuses on the origins of one of the great titles of world literature, presenting a bite-sized piece of literary history, with fascinating details of the work's genesis and composition. The emphasis is on titles that are literally inexplicable without this background knowledge. Includes these titles, among others: 1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess 2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller 3. Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault 4. Fanny Hill by John Cleland 5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville 8. My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse 9. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell 10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 11. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis 12. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain 13. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss 14. Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry 15. Ulysses by James Joyce 16. Utopia by Thomas More 17. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett 18. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee 19. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne 20.The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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9780711229259: Why Not Catch-21?: The Stories Behind the Titles

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ISBN 10:  0711229252 ISBN 13:  9780711229259
Publisher: Frances Lincoln, 2008
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