May the stores be with you
Recently read Seth Greenland's Shining City, a terrifically funny novel Colleen turned me onto. (Click here to watch the trailer.) From the PW rave:
Greenland's uproarious second novel (after The Bones) follows the manifold ups and downs of Marcus Ripps, an unemployed and ill-fated altruist who inherits from his estranged brother an escort service run out of a Hollywood dry cleaning shop. Burdened by mounting debt and his chilly wife, Jan, and concerned that he won't be able to pay for his son's bar mitzvah, Marcus decides to become a pimp. With assistance from Kostya, his brother's former bodyguard, Marcus not only keeps the business afloat, he improves it and offers the prostitutes health insurance and retirement plans. After a john dies handcuffed to a bed, Marcus enlists Jan's help to dump the body. Eager to work with her husband, Jan joins the company, a move that improves their marriage and business, as the Smart Tarts (as Jan names the service) becomes a Web-based cash cow. (Even Jan's ailing mother gets involved.) Things turn around for the Ripps, but trouble comes when a rival pimp threatens Marcus's life. Despite some predictable plot twists and the requisite Hollywood ending, Greenland's novel is entertaining and intelligent, and packed with enough hooks (and hookers) to keep readers sucked in to the last page.
In this book that's all about the commerce, it makes sense that the business names are never throw-away; every one pops and gets a laugh. The title comes from Shining City Dry Cleaning. Then there's Wazoo Toys, which relocates to China and becomes Ameri-Can Industries. I also love JackMart (self-explanatory) and Color Me Mine, a stripmall paint-it-yourself ceramics place.
As Jan considers a new name for the escort biz, she ponders the meaningful name with which she and her partner christened their offbeat boutique:
She had loved the word Ripcord. The verb rip was an active one that implied a tear in the fabric of the ordinary, and cord suggested strength, versatility, and perhaps a hint of bondage for those whose thoughts leaned that way...The two discreet words when combined formed something even more powerful.
Out for a drive with the ol' man whilst working on a novel (which is currently lost in the pipeline but will hopefully see the light of day eventually), I told him, "I need a good name for a store."
"What kind of store?"
"I have no idea. It's a chain, though. With an internet marketing division."
Without missing a beat, Gary said, "Gimme Wicker."
Killed me dead. I laughed till I cried, and the Gimme Wicker! franchise took on a life of it's own, bringing a surprising little plot bomb with it.
Colleen is a wiz at the biz names. My all-time favorite is Haz-Vestment, Inc., a toxic waste disposal firm up to no good in The Salt Maiden.
Anyone else care to share their favorites?