Thursday, February 13, 2014

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes the titles of books make me superstitious.  I am not normally superstitious and most of the time I behave like a mini-Richard Dawkins.  But for some reason, book titles get to me.

A few summers ago when I was reading one Lee Child book after another, I had to stop at the eleventh installment in the series, Bad Luck and Trouble, because I was worried about some things and it seemed reckless to read a book with a title like that at such a time.   Like it would be asking for bad luck to read it.  I did not read it for several months until the general situation improved and it was safe to read something with a provocative title.  And I read it and nothing happened.  (Because I waited? Or because the title of a book has no power whatsoever?)

I faced a similar dilemma with Donald Westlake's Dortmunder novels.  I had to stop after reading eight of them as the ninth is titled What's the Worst That Could Happen?  I've been wanting to resume this series for a long time but did not own a copy of this book.  So I had two vexing decisions to make: do I buy it and then do I read it?  

My wife planned a trip to the Caribbean for us in February and as I was assembling my vacation reading, I realized I needed a small paperback to bring.  Yes, I have thousands of small paperbacks but I have been reading about Westlake again and started to think about confronting the ninth Dortmunder.  Thinking of how fun it would be to relax on the beach and enjoy a Dortmunder caper, I decided to confront my fears (that's what you're supposed to do, right?) and I ordered a copy of What's the Worst That Could Happen? 

My copy arrived on Monday and I packed it for our trip.  And on Tuesday, in anticipation of a major winter storm that is expected to paralyze the entire East Coast, the airline cancelled our flight.   Who's the dummy now?  I should be in a lounge chair on the beach at this very moment but instead I am in my pajamas at home, struggling to fit on a chaise lounge that my dog will not share me.  And I haven't touched my book. And it is still snowing.

PS:  The two books that follow in the series are Bad News and The Road To Ruin.  What am I supposed to do?


Louis XIV, the Sun King (Nick Jones) said...

On this basis, and with the UK currently flooded, by rights I should really be up to Drowned Hopes.

Book Glutton said...

I wish I would have stopped reading the series at Good Behavior, then maybe all of this could have been avoided.

I put WTWTCH? back on the shelf, face down, and and replaced it with The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen, Lucky by Alice Sebold, and of course, Lucky Jim by Kinglsey Amis. And things are already improving.