Now here’s something you don’t see every day: Dictionary Stories. That’s the title of an intriguing little collection of “short fictions and other findings.” The author, Jez Burrows, was looking up “study” in a New Oxford American Dictionary when he noticed a curiously melodramatic example sentence following the definition: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.” Those few words sparked a unique idea. Dictionary example sentences (demonstrating usage of the word in a sentence) could be culled and combined into minuscule stories. The New York Times describes it as “sentences stolen from dictionaries and pasted together into tiny, delightful narratives.” Longmont Library doesn’t have this unusual book but will bring it over from Boulder if you ask nicely.
Here’s something else about dictionaries. They add new words every year. In 2018, Merriam Webster is adding 850 words and definitions, including “wordie,” which is believed to have been first used in 1982, and means what you think it means — a lover of words. Some of the new words have been coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson. You know, the man from Cosmos. He doesn’t like the word “nonfiction.” He advocates redefining “faction” to mean the opposite of “fiction,” because “nonfiction” is a negation of “fiction,” and “a word shouldn’t be referenced for what it is not.” Search his name at the Library’s web site; you’ll be amazed at how many faction books he’s written. His goal is “perfect sentence[s]” which result in “science page-turners.”
According to a recent government survey (if you can believe anything that comes from the nation’s capitol anymore), 9.4% of us between the ages of 15 and 24 read for pleasure or self-fulfillment on a typical day. The percentage increases gradually for ages 25 through 64, and then makes a big hop to 38.3% for folks 65 and older. That makes sense — we of the senior generation have more leisure hours for reading. Aging isn’t all bad!
May your May bring good books and time to read them.
Sue Grafton, author of the alphabet series which began with A is for Alibi and concluded with Y is for Yesterday died in December. Adding poignancy to her passing was her missing by one letter the publication of all twenty-six mystery novels. Z is for Zero will not be finished by anyone else, says her daughter Jamie Clark. Sue was adamant that her detective , Kinsey Millhone, never be sold to movies or TV, and no ghost writer would write novels about her. Good for Sue. Think of all the authors who are no longer with us, but who are still “writing” bestsellers. For instance, Margaret Truman has a new book out, Allied in Danger.
Meanwhile, Janet Evanovich, who is alive and counting, published novel number twenty-two in her series in October (Tricky Twenty-Two). Considering the number of numbers there are, we can predict she has her work cut out for her.
And meanwhile again, prolific mystery author Lawrence Block, who edited the new fiction anthology In Sunlight or in Shadow, seems on the verge of retirement. In the book’s introduction, he says, “I’ve been [writing fiction] for 60 years. And I’ve been getting the message lately that it may be something I can’t do anymore.” In addition to novels about burglars, private eyes, and hit men, Block wrote several books about writing, many short stories, and TV and movie scripts. So although we’re sorry he needs to retire, he’s entitled.
Books by all of the aforementioned authors (even Margaret Truman) are in good supply at your friendly Longmont Library.
Okay, here’s where the turtle comes in. The first American cookbook was published in Connecticut in 1796. The author was Amelia Simmons. It contained some strange recipes, such as pan-cooked eel, and a turtle dish that instructed, “About 9 o’clock hang up your turtle by the hind fins, cut [off] the head and save the blood.” No pictures were included. Thank goodness. No, this classic is not in the Longmont Library collection, but a book about this book is United Tastes.
T.S. Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month. Especially the 15th.