That’s me, the Cartographer’s Daughter. That’s what I’ve decided I’m going to call myself. It sounds much better and more exotic than introducing myself by just saying my name. Boring. That’s so yesterday and I, after all, like to follow a trend. You know which trend I mean. The one in the book publishing business.
Ever notice how many books are titled So and So’s Daughter or So and So’s Wife? You know what I’m talking about. Books with puzzling titles that tie relatives or spouses together, sometimes for no good reason, except that it sounds intriguing. Here’s an example:
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
The Heretic’s Daughter
The Hangman’s Daughter
The Virgin Queen’s Daughter
The Calligrapher’s Daughter
The Apothecary’s Daughter
The Hummingbird’s Daughter
The Zookeeper’s Wife
The Pilot’s Wife
The Senator’s Wife
The Kitchen God’s Wife
The Doctor’s Wife
These are all actual book titles and from the title, I’m never certain who the book is about—the zookeeper or the wife? The time traveler or his wife? The hummingbird or it’s daughter? Or both? And what exactly is a memory keeper? I know what a hangman is. Never met one, but I have a good idea of what he does for a living. But half the time, I’m baffled by these cryptic titles. And why are there so many books following this fad, anyway? Have publishers discovered that books with such titles fly off the shelves and sell faster?
Here’s another mystery: Why are there so many books about the daughter yet hardly any about the son? What is he, chopped liver? In fact, in a search on Amazon.com, the only book that came close was one titled, “The Poacher’s Son.” If you ask me, I’d be more interested in learning about the poacher than the son, whose only claim to fame is that his dad was a poacher. Or maybe it was his mother that was the poacher. Kind of like that classic riddle about an injured boy and his dad, who were both rushed to the hospital and the doctor, upon seeing the boy, said, “I can’t operate on him. That child is my son!” Turns out the doctor was the boy’s mother. So maybe the poacher is too.
Well, I’m the Cartographer’s Daughter because that’s what my father was when he was young and dashing, and still lived in Venezuela. He’d fly over the Amazon Jungle in small propeller planes, taking photos of the landscape, which were then used to make maps. How exciting and thrilling that must have been! Wish I’d known him then. I could have joined him on one of his many adventures. Sigh.
Anyway, I’d rather be known as The Cartographer’s Daughter than by the title of the job he got after he graduated from New York University. Somehow, The Life Insurance Agent’s Daughter doesn’t sound quite the same. And I’m not alone in this judgment. Notice you don’t see any books titled, The Dental Hygienist’s Daughter or The Trash Collector’s Wife. Not exotic enough, if you ask me.
So now that I have my new title, guess I’ll have to write my memoir to go with it. And even if I end up writing the worst book ever, with a title like this one I can’t go wrong. The Cartographer’s Daughter is going to sell like hotcakes. And that you can take to the bank or, better yet, to The Banker’s Daughter.
- Audrey Niffenegger, artist and author: The world of (telegraph.co.uk)