Inexplicable Titles

Jumping off of yesterday’s post, it would be cool to put together a list of famously inexplicable titles of books, film, and art.

I’ll get things started:

Cigarettes by Harry Mathews

Plus, it’s an incredible book. Let’s just say master piece.

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The Moon and Sixpence – Maugham did explain it at some point, but it’s inexplicable on the basis of the text alone.


I feel like inexplicable titles are my favorite kind of titles.

Gasoline, by Quim Monzo

The Passion According to G. H., by Clarice Lispector

The Gospel According to St. John, by whoever

Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz

The Passion According to GH by C.L., and its film equivalent would be l’Eclisse/ the Eclipse by Michaelangelo Antonioni.

The Lime Twig by John Hawkes

    Explanation for Hawkes title: a lime twig is a twig sprinkled with lime in order to entrap birds; birds can be found throughout Hawkes’s fiction as metaphors for victimization and innocence. The novel is about various schemes, thugs, and victims involved with the English horse racing scene done in parody noir. An inference is that not only characters in the novel, but also readers are trapped in Hawkes’s nightmarish vision, or lime twig of a novel.

One of my favorites: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jalousie


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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