Arriving at a book title: Static

Static. Original photo by Robert Raines; manipulation by Kate Tews.
Static. Original photo by Robert Raines; manipulation by Kate Tews.

Naming things is fun, but also challenging. Authors concern themselves over details such as whether a title will give too much emphasis to one plot point, or not draw out another aspect of the book enough.

I like that the word “static” has many meanings. One meaning that isn’t represented in the novel: stagnation, since the death of his brother prompts an evolution in Curtis, the main character.

“Static” refers primarily to its colloquial definition “hassle,” though it also shades into one of the standard definitions: an atmospheric noise or disturbance. Wilt’s calling from the Aftermart is the disturbance in Curtis’s life, and because the calls are perplexing to Curtis, both as to motive and content, they are filled with noise—stuff that obscures the intended signal

Then there’s the meaning of “static equilibrium”—the equilibrium of a system with parts relatively at rest. Curtis’ life before Wilt’s death could have been considered to be in static equilibrium. Once Wilt begins calling, Curtis begins to grow as a character, and this growth—the plot of the book, really—is the result of static friction, the force between bodies in contact as one of them starts to move.

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