Posts Tagged ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

The Naming of Julia; John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The other day on Twitter a reader — whom the court will refer to as @FredaLisgaras, since that is in fact her name — asked if Julia had a last name. And of course she does. But I don’t know what it is, because it’s not in the book.

It’s funny about characters’ names: you know they have them, but unless the narrator supplies them, or somebody for some reason says them out loud, which is surprisingly rare, (see p. 20 of The Magicians, or p. 118 of The Magician King) they don’t tend to come out.

(My narrators tend not to say the characters’ last names because I write in what people sometimes call “close” third-person narration, which means that even though theoretically they’re different people, the narrator’s persona and point of view are closely identified with those of the character whose story they’re telling. And people don’t tend to think about their own last names, or the last names of people they know well. Henry James called this narrative technique “focalization.” I don’t know why I know that.)

Anyway, for whatever reason Julia’s name has never come up, so I suggested that people submit nominations via Twitter. Here’s what came in, in no particular order:

Barclay
Lennox
Dubravka
MacDara
Ogden
Dryden
Chase
Briscoe
Lyndon
Willoughby
Bailey
Stasiulis
Pierce
Wang
Lee
Sen
Das
Garcia
Morales
Morgan
Miner
Roth
Grant
Lyons
Gideon
Lawson
Gresham
Skrenes
Masters
Droyne
Anning
Ballard
Burroughs
Gale
Liddell
Nesbit
Goldman
Schmulia
Tadrus
Garrison
Gulia
Cotler
Magwitch
Navelgazer
Nolan
Pasternak
Wicker
Grosswoman
Marsden
Galen
Carter
Barbour
Grey
Pryor
Reno
Morgenstern
Martin
Wall
Street
Lancaster
Canerdy
Eddings
Bower
Layard

If you’ve got a preference (or another nomination), cause it to be known in the comments. Let’s make some canon!

Next time: the verdict.

p.s. Apropos of nothing, I have to take a second to mention John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which I’m almost done reading. (I sometimes get advance copies of books; it’s one of the things that makes my life good.) The other day I posted on Time.com about seven books I’m looking forward to in 2012, and I didn’t mention Green’s book, because I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’d heard his stuff was good, but I’d never read it myself, and because I’m a suspicious and distrusting person, I didn’t take its goodness on faith. Then I picked up The Fault in Our Stars. I am totally devastated by this book. I cried when I read it, and I never cry. You don’t want to throw around phrases like “instant classic,” but I can see this book sitting next to The Catcher in the Rye. It’s that good.