Ask Me Another
9:15 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Working Title

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 10:28 am

Which sounds like a more appealing read, The Great Gatsby or Trimalchio in West Egg? They're the same book, but now you've learned Fitzgerald's working title. Identify more book titles in this game.

Heard in Episode 315: Let It Lopez

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Welcome back ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR and WNYC's hour of trivia, puzzles and word games. I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg. And joining me on stage to play this next round is Josh Rubin and Jessica Trimble.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Josh, you are a New York attorney. Jessica, an emergency room nurse. Thank you both.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: What would you title the book of your life so far, Josh?

JOSH RUBIN: I was thinking more in terms of job, but I was thinking a sometime civil action.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's great. I love that. I'm ready to make that happen for you. How about you, Jessica?

JESSICA TRIMBLE: I guess what? And leave show business? Yes, for emergency room nursing.

EISENBERG: Because you left show business today in emergency room nurse?

TRIMBLE: I have a bachelors of fine arts and I was in the part of show business where you don't make any money.

EISENBERG: Most of it.

TRIMBLE: Yes.

EISENBERG: Yeah, 99 percent. Yes.

JONATHAN COULTON: And here we are.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It all comes around. Now I ask you that because our next game is called Working Title, which sounds like we didn't quite come up with the title for this game.

COULTON: That's right. It's not, we didn't finish this game, so it's not going to be very good. Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: No. That's not true. As any author can tell you, sometimes the title is the hardest thing to come up with. That's also not true. In fact, lots of now famous books started out with different titles. So I'm going to give a book's working title and a hint about the book. You tell us what the books ultimate title was. Puzzle guru, Greg Pliska, an example, please.

GREG PLISKA: Absolutely. This part is true. If I said Trimalchio in West Egg was the working title of the story of a young mysterious millionaire in the Jazz age. Your answer would be "Great Gatsby."

COULTON: We would also accept as an answer, what the heck is Trimalchio?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Ring in when you know the book, and the winner of this game will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Here we go. This book's working title "Atticus" is actually the first name of the book's main character, a Southern lawyer, father of two and a great moral hero.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jessica.

TRIMBLE: "To Kill A Mockingbird."

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: "First Impressions" isn't as catchy as the final title of this classic tale of 19th century England. And adding "And Zombies" to the title does not sound as cool.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jessica.

TRIMBLE: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." "Pride and Prejudice."

COULTON: Yes. You had me at "Pride and Prejudice." Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I do like "First Impressions and Zombies," though.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: "Alls Well That Ends Well," was the old really optimistic title given to early sketches of this mammoth novel about five Russian aristocratic families in the early 1800s.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Josh.

RUBIN: "War and Peace."

COULTON: "War and Peace." That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Have you read it, Josh?

RUBIN: Parts of it.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's what everyone says.

COULTON: That's all you need to read.

RUBIN: We all have.

COULTON: You don't need to read the whole thing. It's not worth it.

EISENBERG: Yeah. First page.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: This book about the lost generation was first published in England under the title "Fiesta." And it brought worldwide attention to the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, something its manly author surprisingly never participated in.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jessica.

TRIMBLE: "Old Man and the Bulls?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: No. Josh, do you have a guess?

RUBIN: I don't have it. I know it's Hemingway, but I don't know the book.

COULTON: You can guess any Hemingway novel you'd like. It doesn't hurt if you're wrong.

RUBIN: I cannot think of a Hemingway novel.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Does anybody out there know what the answer is?

AUDIENCE: "The Sun Also Rises."

COULTON: "The Sun Also Rises." That's right. Referring to the civil rights tumult of the 1960s, this book about the history of the author's family in Africa was originally titled "Before This Anger."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jessica.

TRIMBLE: "Roots?"

COULTON: I'm sorry. "Roots."

(LAUGHTER)

TRIMBLE: No, no, thank you.

COULTON: Jessica and Josh at the same time.

RUBIN: Yeah.

COULTON: Yes. Jessica is correct and Josh is completely ignored because...

TRIMBLE: But Josh has cracked two.

EISENBERG: Aw, Jessica.

COULTON: Aw.

RUBIN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Though new book said it in exactly the same way. Josh went, "Roots?" And you went, "Roots?" It was kind of nice, sing-songy.

COULTON: What the working title of "The Kingdom by the Sea," this book is a woman's name that has become a term for a sexually precocious young girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Josh.

RUBIN: "Lolita?"

COULTON: "Lolita." Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "The Kingdom by the Sea," what the - does that have to do with anything? That is like if you bought "The Kingdom by the Sea," and then read "Lolita," you would be like...

COULTON: Surprised.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Want them to read a book about the ocean.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: This is your last book. This 1974 nonfiction book's actual title is an allusion to the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, but its authors originally titled it "At This Point in Time."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Josh.

RUBIN: "All the President's Men."

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Greg, how did our contestant's do?

PLISKA: Well, once again we have a tie.

EISENBERG: Whoa.

COULTON: Unbelievable.

PLISKA: So I have a tiebreaker for you. It's a short one. This book's original title was "Catch 18."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

TRIMBLE: Jessica.

"Catch 22."

PLISKA: Very good.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Well done, both of you. And Jessica, you will be moving on and we'll see you at our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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