- It was not the title of a poem in the collection. I tend towards the point of view that using the same title for both a poem and a whole collection is a cop-out. What works on a small scale is usually not enough to encompass a whole book. And yes, I do have a poem in my book titled "Perpetual Care"--my own hypocrisy keeps me up at night.
- It was a single word, and it didn't start with "The..." I had been reading a lot of books lately with unnecessarily long titles, and the "The's" abounded. I wanted something that would both stand out on a cover and keep things simple.
- It spoke to certain themes in the book that I thought were important: the act of leaving and returning, connections to the past, a disconnect with place.
- Norman Dubie liked it.
A wonderful new book by Elaine Sexton that just happened to be titled Causeway. So I went back to the manuscript in search of another title. Some sounded good but were meaningless, others gave away too much, and still others were just boring. I settled on Perpetual Care for various reasons. An announcement went out. Cover art was chosen. Then, one lazy day, as I was screwing around on the internet, I found this:
No joke...a new book of stories by James Nolan called, of course, Perpetual Care. I began to wonder what was going on. Had I tapped into some space-time continuum thing? Was I seeing into the not-so-distant future? I bought a few lottery tickets and contacted my editor, fearful I would have to find another new title. Thankfully, she decided that, since Nolan's book was fiction, there would be no conflict of interest.
But the strangeness doesn't end there. When I got the proof for the cover design, I fell in love with how darkly powerful it looked. Then I noticed an eerie resemblance to another book: