I saw this book in a used bookstore recently and … well. It is hard to express my instant reaction. I mean … the cover is pretty? And completely inoffensive? And then you get that title.
“Blind Your Ponies.” Really? REALLY?
Here is the description from Goodreads:
Willow Creek, Montana. With bold strokes on a large canvas, Stanley West has drawn an entire village of curious and outlandish characters who have been cast so vividly that one can see them, hear them, laugh with them, feel with them – people as real as relatives.
When Sam Pickett comes to the quiet little village to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, he discovers buried and shadowed stories fraught with aching regret, human wreckage, and heartrending bravery – people silently bearing their broken dreams and unbearable sorrows. Can they be aroused by the most unexpected and least likely source in their midst? Encouraged and uplifted to embrace life for all it’s worth? Out of these utterly ordinary lives, West brings forth a startling glimpse into the hidden places of the human heart and characters who will stay with you like old friends long after you’ve turned the last page.
Well, of course it’s literary. What other genre would slap a title like that on a book like this? But even if the “broken dreams and unbearable sorrows” didn’t turn me off, I couldn’t be able to bring myself to read the first page solely because of this title.
Now! I’m sure you are as curious as I was about where in the world that title could have come from. As it turns out, if you skim down some of the reviews for this book, you will discover that commenter Olivermagnus helpfully explains:
The title is taken from an old American Indian legend: A group of Crow warriors returning from a hunt finds that all of the inhabitants of their camp have died from typhoid. In the belief that they will join their loved ones in the afterlife, they blind their ponies and ride them off a cliff.
This story certainly does not counteract my revulsion; quite the reverse. Notice that if this were true, the warriors could have let their ponies go and flung themselves off the cliff without taking the poor beasts with them. But no.
To leave you all with a nicer image, here is a pretty horse no one is going to blind and ride off a cliff:
4 thoughts on “The very, very worst title ever?”
Taking the “attention-grabbing” school of title-writing to extremes, I guess?
As you say, it’s particularly weird with that title slapped on top of a bucolic autumn in the West. Sort of like putting “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” (also a genuine title! of a horror story by Harlan Ellison) across a happy park scene.
Meanwhile I’m reading I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level.
It’s a good book thus far and the title suits it. 0:)
I read the blog title and thought How bad can the book title really be?’
Oh. /That/ bad.
Amazingly, Craig found an even worse title! But at least that is a horror story, so a truly awful, horrible, repulsive title is … maybe … not going to turn so many potential readers away? But I would literally not read a story called “A Whimper of Whipped Dogs” if it was the last story on Earth.
I’ve Been Killing Slimes is juuuust fine in comparison. Not nearly as repulsive when it’s just a physical word like “slimes” instead of a truly terrible image like Blind Your Ponies.