Yes, I Named My Daughter Gaylord Focker, by Joseph Joel, Reviewed.


An unusual book, in that the longest ‘chapter’ containing prose is the introduction by the author. However, this amusing preface says all that’s needed to introduce readers to the lists of absurd, improbable, insane and downright insulting names that parents have saddled their offspring with and some companies have labelled themselves as. The phrase ‘A rose by any other name…’ is here given a thorough bashing with examples of the idiocy of some people when it comes to naming their children. In some cases, almost literally: Adrien Fart, Cinnamon Dornsife, Fruity McGill, Fuming Sun, Herb Ham, Mace Gassman, and Muskrat Michelle Crosby are just a few that spring to mind. Yes, the lists are alphabetical. And all the names have been researched for authenticity.

There are very many examples of ludicrous names; some depend for their effect on the reader’s knowledge of the native culture of the originator. But the overall impression is that, for all that the creative among us dislike the idea of authority, someone in such authority should be allowed to prevent cruel parents from landing their children with names that appear designed to ensure they’ll spend their school years bullied and taunted by their peers and their adult lives justifying or explaining their odd nomenclature.

Differences in language apart, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would wish to saddle a child with Pug Hunt, Saliva Stubblefield, Sekrett love, Silly Stringer, or Slut Precious. Mind you, my first wife was a teacher and, at her first class registration session in the early 1970s, came across a girl labelled Ophelia Balls, so it’s clearly not a new phenomenon.

This isn’t a book to read so much as to dip into. It’ll provide you with laughs and, if you have any empathy at all, despair at the idiocy of some mothers’ and fathers’ lack of concern for the future of their offspring. One thing it does very well is to convince those of us who write and create fictional characters, often with made-up names, that our attempts can often be very tame compared with the reality!

Enjoyable, entertaining and amusing, if for so many wrong reasons, and a useful social comment on the results of poor education and bad judgment. Have a look; you won’t be disappointed.

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