or, The Joy of Text
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In a follow-up to Alphabet Juice (2008), the author expands his personalized dictionary.

Blount (Hail, Hail, Euphoria!: Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, the Greatest War Movie Ever Made, 2010, etc.) is a classic American humorist in the company of H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Andy Rooney and Garrison Keillor. He is also a regular panelist on NPR’s comic quiz show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary. These biographical elements begin to provide a glimpse of the kind of writing readers will encounter in this text: comic, intelligent, political, insightful and often absurd explorations of words as various as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “decapitate.” As with previous investigations of language, Blount shows he is a master at blending folksy humor with word play and etymological analysis. His reflections and analyses are witty, funny and unaffected, and his political humor can be sharp. Imagine a collaboration between Normal Rockwell, Groucho Marx and Daniel Webster, and you begin to have a picture of Blount here. If this comparison of sensibilities screams old fashioned, it’s true, but only partly, as many of Blount’s entries deal with current technologies and trends. In one instance, under the entry for “first sentence,” he mocks the opening of Karl Rove’s memoir with characteristically clever sarcasm. However, “folksy” is definitely apropos in describing Blount’s comedy, or maybe even the more recent “old school”—the humor recalls a time when comedy was less crass and offensive, say in Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. A word like “fuck,” for instance, is sanitized and imbedded in an entry for “gollywaddles.”

Read in small doses, a humorous and insightful panoply of word play, political humor and linguistic inquiry.

Pub Date: May 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-10370-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2011


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