by Karen Elizabeth Gordon ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 10, 1998
Part lexicon, part fantasy, Gordon's latest is a playful and original book that defies easy categorization. Described by Gordon (who brought us The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, not reviewed) as a ""Balkanalian tour of Babel,"" Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness is neither a novel about the Balkans nor a guide to a multilingual locale. Rather, containing elements of both, it is a delightful celebration of words in the English language that are frequently confused and misused (i.e., immured/inured, displace/misplace, momentarily/momently), all set in the fictional world inhabited by castles, Balkan-sounding cities, and characters with names that will set readers howling with laughter. One has the impression that there must be some internal logic to the strange characters and situations, yet trying to make ""sense"" of it all seems to work against the sheer relishing of each word play, each small, self-contained story, and each mini-lecture on the chosen words. The book begins with a wildly funny ""Dramatis Personae"" containing such gems as Constanza Zermattress, General Pvbxtrz, Cedric Moltgang (""a critic at large and also at risk""), and our heroine, geographer/cartographer Jonquil Allegra Mapp. Each entry reads like either a joke or a mini-drama--or both--with characters frequently changing name and sex and entering liaisons with vampires, cowboys, and one another. The other sections, ""Couplings and Confusions/Finesses of Usage"" and the accompanying lexicon develop these connections in witty and informative commentary and examples of word usage. Here the reader is treated to more of Gordon's original musings and joking variations on popular and high culture, warfare, and gender roles. Among the funniest of these are: ""Up Your Eponym,"" a popular TV show on language in all its permutations; ""To Die in a Dirndl,"" a romance by Nada Seria; the Belladonna Mafia; the newspaper ""Der zaftig Tagblut""; ""The Bad-Tempered Cavalier""; Amplochacha, the capital city of each and every land, and the opera ""The Velveteen Rabble."" A fresh, fun, and exhilarating book for lovers of language.
Pub Date: Nov. 10, 1998
Page Count: 240
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998
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