I’ve long been a fan of Adam Gopnik’s, and I greatly enjoyed his A Point of View: The curse of a ridiculous name, in which he laments his surname and worries about its effect on his afterlife:
Are there any big modern writers who have really funny names? Only Kipling, I think, and that is an accident of the participle.
More to the point, are there good writers who are now forgotten, as I am pretty sure I shall be, because their names are so funny?
Yes, I have to say with dread, there are – for instance, the 20th Century American poet WD Snodgrass. Snodgrass was a truly great poet, the originator, if anyone was, of the style we now call “confessional poetry”, a hero to Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath and the rest. But he had that funny Pickwickian name, and he knew it. He used to make fun of his own name: “Snodgrass is walking through the universe!” one poem reads (I, too, make fun of my surname, in the hopes of keeping off the name-demons).
It even has a Russian aspect:
A gopnik in Russian, and in Russia, is now a drunken hooligan, a small-time lout, a criminal without even the sinister glamour of courage. When Russian people hear my last name, they can barely conceal a snigger of distaste and disgusted laughter. Those thugs who clashed with Polish fans at Euro 2012? All gopniks – small G. And I’m told that it derives from an acronym for public housing, rather than from our family’s Jewish roots, but no difference.