Monday, May 9, 2011

Name anagrams in literature and life

I've always enjoyed the appearance of anagrams in literature. Rosemary's Baby comes immediately to mind. In Ira Levin's masterpiece, Rosemary has to figure out an anagram, a clue left by her mentor, Hutch, now sadly deceased.

First she plays with the title of a book he supplied, called "All of Them Witches". But she comes up with nothing. (Mind you, the title of this fictional book is an anagram, according to the always trustworthy internets, for "Hell a Cometh Swift".) Finally, she tries the name of the witch, Adrian Marcoto, and realizes it's an anagram of Roman Castavet, the name of the sweet old man next door.

The second instance that comes to mind is Armistead Maupin's name, which is an anagram for a man I dreamt up. I always liked that. And of course the name of one of the characters in "Tales of the City", Anna Madrigal, the fabulous trans landlady, is also an anagram, in this case for a man and a girl.

When I was thinking about this last night I decided to check my own name out. I sat down with the letters of my name, Keith O'Connor, and fooled around with them. It's surprising to me that I had never tried this before. You'd think on some boring school day a younger me would have given this a shot. Nope. A sad oversight on my part.

In any case, I quickly came up with the prosaic Cookie N. North. You wouldn't think you could make Cookie N. North out of Keith O'Connor, would you? Of course another variation is the racier-sounding C. Nookie North. But after noticing the second variation, I had a horrible thought. Poor Cookie N. North's name might actually be Cookie Nookie North, in which case, either way she wrote it, Cookie N. North or C. Nookie North, it would be an anagram of my name. The poor woman!

Have you ever played around with the letters of your name? What did you come up with? Or can you recall other books where anagrams played a role? Tell me about them.