S4L Book Club – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

S4L Book Club - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencySpeaking of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni…how did you feel about his full name being used all the time? Did you like it, or did it bug you?

Because Mike was reading aloud, it bugged him a little. That’s a mouthful to say each and every time the character’s name was used. Had I been reading to myself, I probably would have glossed over it, registering it without actually pronouncing it in my head. Sometimes, when there’s a name in a book that’s too weird or hard for me to pronounce, even internally, I give the character a name of my own or use the first initial only.

Why do you suppose the author chose to use the name as he did? Does it strike you as especially appropriate (i.e., that Precious would use that name), or do you think it was just a bit of deliberate quirkiness tossed in for fun?

How do you feel about strange names used in books? I’ll never recall the title, but I read a kids’ book a couple of years ago where ALL the character names were odd, and I found it annoying, distracting; it made the whole thing feel as though the author was trying too hard.

It reminds me of a Saturday Night Live sketch where . . . I think it’s Will Ferrell doing roll call at summer camp. It’s a list of ridiculous names, including Neo Synephrine.

Dick and Jane are names gone by, to be sure.

Categories: Reading

2 replies »

  1. Carl Hiassen also often refers to his characters by their full names. It seems like a trademark in his work and, though it stands out, I’m accustomed to that quirk.

    Names are not what they used to be! Through my work in high schools I see thousands of kids names and can tell you child-naming is a form of creative writing. In some cases, I’d have to use the child’s full name just to remember its correct spelling. Even simple sounding names, such as Derreck, have at least a few variations I can recall seeing (Derek, Darik, Derik, Dereck). When will we see a rebound to simpler names?

    Back to your No. 1 Ladies’ Detetctive Agency. . .did you ever see the TV show?

  2. I think that using Mr. JLB Matekoni’s full name is a reflection of the manners and nature of the Botswanan people. Referring to characters in this way is characteristic of this series of novels, but not of other works by Alexander McCall Smith. (Spoiler to Tuesday’s post- I’ve just re-read Pride and Prejudice and I think there are some correlations.)
    Like Jen, I think when I read the book, I registered the name, but didn’t think the whole name. When I listened to the book, narrated by Lisette Lecat in a lovely lilting accent, the name was musical and I actually enjoyed hearing it each time.
    As a reader of fantasy, I am accustomed to unusual names, but I find them somewhat laborious in general fiction. In terms of this book, the names are odd to us, but not to Africa.
    Names generally have changed significantly over the years and I suppose that is normal.
    Mary Beth- I haven’t seen the TV series. Is it good?