November 05, 1990 12:00 PM

>Peter Benchley on titling his first novel, from Literary Outtakes, edited by Larry Dark (Fawcett Columbine, paper, $8.95):

I had toyed with a lot of Franchise Sagan-like stuff, such as A Stillness in the Water. My father goaded me onward with splendid suggestions like What Dat Noshin’ on My Laig? Then there were The Jaws of Death and Leviathan Rising and White Death and The Jaws of Leviathan and Death in the Water and Shark! and (the French used this one for their version) The Teeth of the Sea and Summer of the Shark and on and on…

Finally, I said to my editor, Tom Congdon, that since we couldn’t agree on any title we should concentrate on a single word we liked, and the only word we thought was kind of good was Jaws. So screw it, said I, we’ll call it Jaws.

I ran the title by my family and my agent. Everybody hated it. I didn’t think much of it either. But what the hell…nobody buys first novels anyway.

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