Blount, Roy, Jr.
Publisher U.S.A. Sarah Crichton Books 2011
0374103704 / 9780374103705
Fresh-squeezed Lexicology, with Twists
No man of letters savors the ABC's, or serves them up, like language-loving humorist Roy Blount Jr. His glossary, from "ad""hominy" to "zizz," ""is hearty, full bodied, and out to please discriminating palates coarse and fine. In 2008, he celebrated the gists, tangs, and energies of letters and their combinations in "Alphabet Juice," to wide acclaim. Now, "Alphabetter Juice." Which is "better."
This book""is for anyone--novice wordsmith, sensuous reader, or career grammarian--who loves to get physical with words. What is the universal sign of disgust, "ew," doing in "beautiful" and "cutie"? Why is "toadless," but not "frogless," in the Oxford English Dictionary? How can the U. S. Supreme Court find relevance in "gollywoddles"? Might there be scientific evidence for the sonicky value of "hunch"? And why would someone not bother to spell correctly the very word he is trying to define on Urbandictionary.com?
Digging into how locutions evolve, and work, or fail, Blount""draws upon everything from "The Tempest" to "The Wire." He takes us to Iceland, for salmon-watching with a "girl gillie," and to Georgian England, where a distinguished etymologist bites off more of a "giantess" than he can chew. Jimmy Stewart appears, in connection with "kludge "and the bombing of Switzerland. Litigation over "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious "leads to a vintage werewolf movie; news of possum-tossing, to "metanarrative.
"As Michael Dirda wrote in "The Washington Post Book World," "The immensely likeable Blount clearly possesses what was called in the Italian Renaissance 'sprezzatura, ' that rare and enviable ability to do even the most difficult things without breaking a sweat." "Alphabetter Juice" is brimming with sprezzatura. Have a taste.