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Thursday, July 2, 2015

44 LITERARY MOUNT RUSHMORES


A friend and I have a little game of intellectual tennis that we play, usually when we’re killing time. It’s called “The Mount Rushmore Game,” and basically it just requires us to come up with the four greatest entries in any particular category. For instance (and these are only my opinions, but I’m pretty sure they’re correct), the Mount Rushmore of…

American athletes: Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps

Rock bands: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, U2

Sitcom characters: Archie Bunker, Hawkeye Pierce, Homer Simpson, The Fonz

See, it’s easy, if never a source of agreement. So I’ve taken it to a literary level. Best songs about writing? Best literary doctors? Best character names? Best autobiography titles? It’s all here—and most of the lists of four have been expanded elsewhere in the WhyNot 100 (Four songs about writing? How about 95).

So here are 44 fun foursomes, all of which could be carved into rock:

1. SONGS ABOUT WRITING:
Paperback Writer (The Beatles)
Every Day I Write the Book (Elvis Costello)
Unwritten (Natasha Beddingfield)
I Write the Songs (Barry Manilow)

2. MOVIES ABOUT WRITERS:
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Almost Famous (2000)
The Player (1992)
The Shining (1980)

3. DR. SEUSS CHARACTERS:
The Cat in the Hat
Horton the elephant
The Grinch
The Lorax

4. FANTASY WORLDS:
Wonderland
The Land of Oz
Narnia
Middle-Earth


5. COMMENTARIES ON IMAGINATION:
“You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why.’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?’” ― George Bernard Shaw
“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”  G.K. Chesterton
“Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ― Albert Einstein
“Imagination is the voice of daring.”  Henry Miller

6. MID 20TH CENTURY WRITERS NAMED JOHN:
John Steinbeck
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
John Updike
John Hersey

7. LATE 20TH CENTURY WRITERS NAMED JOHN:
John Irving
John Grisham
John Cheever
John McPhee

8. BETTER BOOK TITLES:
Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak):
Skipping Dinner is Like Dropping Acid
Brokeback Mountain (Annie Proulx):
The Hills Have Guys
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle):
Eat Until You Feel Pretty
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger):
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

9. LITERARY CANDIES:
Wonka Bar (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (Harry Potter series)
Brain Feed (The Candy Shop War)
Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

10. INDIE BOOKSTORE NAMES:
Crazy Wisdom (Ann Arbor, MI)
Tome on the Range (Las Vegas, NM)
Iconoclast Books (Ketchum, ID)
Women and Children First (Chicago, IL)


11. PHRASES COINED BY SHAKESPEARE:
The world’s my oyster (The Merry Wives of Windor)
Be-all and the end-all (Macbeth)
It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)
There’s the rub (Hamlet)

12. FIRST LINES OF NOVELS:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks
were striking thirteen.” (1984 by George Orwell)

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is
unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy)

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll
probably want to know is where I was born, and what my
lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied
and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind
of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
(The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger)

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”
(Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston)

13. LAST LINES OF NOVELS:
"He loved Big Brother." (1984 by George Orwell)

"I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before." (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)

“I am haunted by waters.” (A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean)

“From here on in I rag nobody.” (Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris)

14. VERY BAD BOOK TITLES:
What’s Your Poo Telling You? (Anish Sheth)
Assaulted Pretzel: An Amish Mystery (Laura Bradford)
How to Avoid Huge Ships (Captain John W. Trimmer)
The Best Dad is a Good Lover (Charlie W. Shedd)

15. BOOKS WITH NUMBERED TITLES:
1984 (George Orwell)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)

16. LITERARY DETECTIVES:
Sherlock Holmes
Hercule Poirot
Philip Marlowe
Nancy Drew

    17. SEUSSIAN INSIGHTS:
“Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person,
no matter how small!” (Horton Hears a Who)

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You
can steer yourself any direction you choose.” (Oh, The Places You’ll Go!)

“In the places I go there are things that I see that I never could spell
if I stopped with a Z. I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends. My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends.” (On Beyond Zebra)

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (The Lorax)

18. STEVEN WRIGHT ONE-LINERS:
“I intend to live forever—so far, so good.”

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time.’
So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”

“How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?”

“I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”

19. BOOKS WRITTEN BY KIDS:
The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
Eragon (Christopher Paolini)
In the Forests of the Night (Amelia Atwater-Rhodes)

20. DISTURBING GRIMMS’ FAIRY TALE TITLES:
Godfather Death
The Poor Boy in the Grave
The Devil’s Sooty Brother
Gambling Hansel

21. LITERARY PAIRINGS:
Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

22. HEADLINE FAILS:
Man Accused of Killing Lawyer Receives a New Attorney
Police: Crack Found in Man’s Buttocks
Top Secret Mission to Launch Tuesday
Chick Accuses Some of Her Male Colleagues of Sexism


23. HEADLINES FROM ‘THE ONION’:
Children, Creepy Middle-Aged Weirdos Swept Up in Harry Potter Craze
Winner Didn’t Even Know It Was Pie-Eating Contest
CIA Realizes It’s Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years
Wealthy Teen Nearly Experiences Consequences

24. TOWN SLOGANS:
Newton Falls, Ohio: The town with zip
Gettysburg, South Dakota: Where the battle wasn’t
Hooker, Oklahoma: It’s a location, not a vocation
Boswell, Indiana: Hub of the universe

25. SONGS ABOUT ROAD TRIPS:
Me and Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin)
On the Road Again (Willie Nelson)
Born to be Wild (Steppenwolf)
Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)

26. WRITERS NAMED WILLIAM:
William Shakespeare
William Faulkner
William Wordsworth
William B. Yeats

27. SHAKESPEARE CHARACTERS:
Hamlet
Lady Macbeth
King Lear
Prospero

28. LITERARY DOCTORS:
Dr. John H. Watson (A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle)
Dr. Fu-Manchu (The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, Sax Rohmer)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris)
Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein, Mary Shelley)

29. BOOK TITLES BORROWED FROM LITERATURE:
For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway)
—from “Meditation XVII” (John Donne)
Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
—from “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae” (Ernest Dowson)
Look Homeward, Angel (Thomas Wolfe)
—from “Lycidas” (John Milton)
As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner)
—from The Odyssey (Homer)

30. COLORFUL BOOKS:
The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)

31. RED BOOKS:
The Red Pony (John Steinbeck)
Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls)
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)

32. ICONIC WRITERS’ ACCESSORIES:
J.R.R. Tolkien’s pipe
Mark Twain’s cigars
James Joyce’s eye-patch
Oscar Wilde’s flower lapel

33. CHARACTER NAMES IN LITERATURE
Ebenezer Scrooge
Atticus Finch
Holly Golightly
Phileas Fogg


34. BOOKS ABOUT BASEBALL:
The Boys of Summer (Roger Kahn)
Ball Four (Jim Bouton)
Moneyball (Michael Lewis)
Shoeless Joe (W.P. Kinsella)

35. BASEBALL MURDER MYSTERY TITLES:
Hanging Curve (Troy Soos)
The Dead Pull Hitter (Alison Gordon)
A Player to be Maimed Later (John Billheimer)
Strike Three You’re Dead (R.D. Rosen)

36. LITERARY ANIMALS:
The Cat in the Hat
Winnie-the-Pooh
Charlotte
Moby Dick

37. AWESOME AUTOBIOGRAPHY TITLES:
Me (Katherine Hepburn)
The Memoirs of an Amnesiac (Oscar Levant)
Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela)
I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow, Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day (Joe Namath)

38. AWFUL AUTOBIOGRAPHY TITLES:
Don’t Hassel the Hoff (David Hasselhoff)
Mountain, Get Out of My Way (Montel Williams)
Just Farr Fun (Jamie Farr)
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)

39. SEUSSIAN PLACES:
Who-ville (Horton Hears a Who, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)
The Jungle of Nool (Horton Hears a Who)
The Street of the Lifted Lorax (The Lorax)
Mulberry Street (And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street)


40. BANDS NAMES TAKEN FROM LITERATURE
The Doors
Steely Dan
Genesis
Steppenwolf

41. ISLAND BOOKS:
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
The Mysterious Island (Jules Verne)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (H.G. Wells)
Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

42. LITERARY RABBITS:
Br’er Rabbit (Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris)
Peter Rabbit (The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter)
White Rabbit (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)
Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom (Rabbit, Run by John Updike)

43. HAPPY HOBBIT NAMES:
Poppy Bolger 
Daddy Twofoot 
Hilda Bracegirdle Brandybuck 
Falco Chubb-Baggins

44. BOOKS ABOUT MOUNT RUSHMORE FIGURES:
George Washington: The Indispensible Man (James T. Flexner)
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (Joseph J. Ellis)
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Edmund Morris)
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Doris Kearns Goodwin)








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