Last Sunday's (8/14/05) NYT Book review got me thinking. What does it take to be a successful writer? You are familiar with real estate success, need I mention (three things): location, ... Well the Book Review cover page was waxing on the work of Bret Easton Ellis. "I've heard of that name", I'm saying to myself. Before long, I was reminded why: American Psycho, I believe it was. The reviewer went on to explain the pre-publication copy of Mr Ellis' current work had a letter inside the cover, explaining Mr Ellis's style. Aha, .. I'm recalling blood, gore, probably lots of sex, not that I've read any Ellis, but, as I say, am remembering the name.
So, I'm still asking myself, "Why is it I'm remembering his name?" Could it be talent? And an agent, to write the necessary apologia? All well and good, but what is the hook that caused me to remember his name: Ahah! It came to me in a flash: Three Names! Quick, think of an author: Barbara Taylor Bradford, F Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O Connor, to name just three. Of course, the names needn't be names, initials will do: P D James. ee cummings, E F Schumacher. (For some reason, I want to call him E G?)
It would seem you have to decide at an early age on your persona: three names or not. Mr Ellis reportedly made it big while of college age, where he no doubt established the person he would become: Three names were a requirement. What was he known at home? Bretty? While yours truly, moving half a continent away at college from his roots in rural Minnesota, dropped the "Mickey" mantle, and switched to the more regular "Marty", which in Minnesota was used to refer to his father, while "Mart" was reserved for the first in the line of M J McGs.
While there are many authors who succeeded with fewer than three public names, this pundit is waiting for the scientific evidence in support of the Three Name Hypothesis. Let me know if you have support one way or the other.