“Better to go barefoot than without a book.” That Icelandic saying is especially meaningful considering how few folks would go barefoot in that climate. The quotation’s from a Longmont Library book by Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss. Weiner, an NPR correspondent, wondered how much place determines happiness. Which countries are happiest and why? A self-described “mope,” he’s also a humorist to rival Bill Bryson. Here’s more about Iceland: “. . . just about everyone in Iceland is a writer or poet. Taxi drivers, college professors, hotel clerks, fishermen. Everyone. Icelanders joke that one day they will erect a statue in the center of Reykjavik to honor the one Icelander who never wrote a poem. They’re still waiting for that person to be born.”
A portmanteau is a suitcase having two compartments hinged together; a portmanteau word is one formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two different words–for example, “confusiasm” from confused and enthusiasm. Thus, something old relegated to the attic is atticquated. How about slopsyturvy? Houspitality? Weddiversary? Next time you’re stuck waiting at the post office, entertain yourself by portmanscribing your line mates.
Have you read any of the “Dark and Stormy” books, compilations of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contests? They’ve been published since 1986, and you can maybe locate them at a Friends’ book sale or definitely through interlibrary loan. Only the most awful sentences are winners. (“Bryon the Plainsman seldom spoke a discouraging word but he did when he filed for divorce after discovering his dear and an interloper played.” Maree Lubran) Should you want to enter, editor Scott Rice shares insight on the dreaded writer’s block: “. . . you will be sitting in front of your typewriter or word processor, eyes glazed, fingers frozen, ears ringing, the tip of your nose numb, unable to write. Do not lose confidence or construe this as a reflection on your essential creativity. You are probably having a stroke.”