Sayonara Book World

After the departure of Marie Arana and much rumor, The Washington Post announced last week that it was going to discontinue Book World as a standalone tabloid in the Sunday paper. (For the record, I wrote a couple of reviews for her several years back and found her to be a wonderful editor.)

Of course the Post is not the only newspaper to eliminate its book section qua book section, nor likely will it be the last. Continue reading

The Bob Delusion

This is the novel I promised myself I’d have finished last year. Well, it’s now this year. I’m hanging this out there in the electronic universe just in case anyone wants to read and comment on it.

I’m using Apple’s Pages to write it, and but to put it out there using Adobe’s interesting beta, I had to convert it to Word, which doesn’t get all of the formatting exactly right, and since I use fonts that you might not have, I’ve changed some of them to more or less universal fonts.

Update: is no longer in beta, and I don’t really have any use for it. You can see pieces of TBD on Fictionaut, if you really want to by using the link.

This is a work in progress, in which on a day his wife has served him with divorce papers, his company is hinting at layoffs, and he is really in no condition for any more weirdness, the most unprecedentedly weird thing happens to him imaginable. He runs into himself, or, more literally, himself runs into him. This is not a guy who looks like him. This is him.

Even more weirdness ensues.

If you want to take a look and give me feedback, please email me and I will give you access.

In Praise, Sort of, of Profanity

I am not an apologist for snark—Stark, yes—but not snark. And I’m not going to argue that profanity—cussing as this young fellow, featured on a recent story on NPR has it—

I think David Denby and others are right that discourse—or some of it—has deteriorated in the digital culture.

But all of that aside, it seems to me that there are distinct and visceral pleasures—an onomatopoetic expression of sensation merged with the physical sensation of its experience. The two most popular “cuss” words, it would seem to me, are the S-word and the F-word. And both can be deployed in a variety of ways that are entirely irrelevant of their dictionary definitions and to express a wide variety of emotions. (And a lot of times can be used with a lassitude that labels the user as stupid and inarticulate.)

Explosively expressive 

The thing about these two words in particular, and some others—the B-word, for example—is the sheer physicality of their use. In linguistic terms, most of the tastiest profanity is loaded with plosives, or little sudden stops in giving breath to a sound, as in sudden halting of the final consonant of the S-word. Ditto the final consonant of the F-word. They’re also loaded with fricatives, in which the voicing of the consonant sound is more or less crushed upon its escape—between teeth, between lips and teeth, between tongue and palate or tongue and teeth. Which also occurs in these two words (ditto the B-word). You have the fricative at the beginning of the monosyllable, F forced between the upper teeth and lower lip, and then a satisfying middle period of pure sound that’s almost groan and uses pretty much the entirely of the mouth, and then it’s suddenly halted by the back of the mouth by the tongue—K, which also has a fricative quality.

So you’re hammering a nail and miss and your errant thumb just happens to be the recipient of the hammer’s blow. Seems to me that that sort of monosyllabic expression, with all its rough edges and sibilance, is very close to an onomatopoetic expression of the similar physical sensation currently being expressed by the neurons in the thumb.

So should I use these and other colorful words as much as I do? No. And why have I not used them here? Do demonstrate their power. You know what I’m talking about. 

Which sort of goes to what the young man in the video above—in his NPR interview—says about “dang is okay.”
Persephone’s Box says in this post:

“Why are replacement words like “fudge” or “frigging” or “cheese and rice” or “heck” or “gall darn it” or “sugar” considered better than the actual terms when we all know that’s what you’re really thinking? I don’t think they are any better.”

But the kid has gotten “death threats.” What a bunch of toadsuckers there are out there.