Tag Archives: literature

Shakespeare Insult Kit

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Here’s all you need to find the perfect insult. Just follow the instructions below. You don’t need to read across, necessarily. Just take one from each column, wherever you find an appealing word.  Thanks to my friend Lee G. for posting this.

 

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Do We Really Need Prefixes?

I have been a subscriber to The New Yorker since the Millard Fillmore administration and must have read this humor piece by Jack Winter in the July 25, 1994 issue. Somehow, I had forgotten it, but my longtime friend Darrell F. sent it to me, knowing it would be up my proverbial alley. Mr. Winter must have spent a long time with a thesaurus and dictionary to get the perfect words for this article. Do enjoy it!

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How I Met My Wife

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.

I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.

I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.

Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion.

So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of.

I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated–as if this were something I was great shakes at–and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.

Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d’oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myselfs.

She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation become more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

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Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Canadian author Alice Munro has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature—and a well deserved award this is. You say you don’t have time for long books?  Munro specializes in the short story, quiet unfoldings of (often) rural Canadian life that seem simple but excavate the deepest concerns of what being human entails.

Pick up any of her collections and you will be transported and changed. Now in her 80s, Munro says she has stopped writing, but you will have many of her collections to choose from. Find her online, at the library, or—if one still exists near you—in a bricks and mortar bookstore.

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

That odd combination of words is the title of an extraordinary book I just finished reading; the author’s name is Katherine Boo. She divides her time between the US and India and spent five years interviewing the inhabitants of a Mumbai slum situated on the edge of a sewage lake and very near the shiny new airport. Obviously, the contrast between the slumdwellers’ lives and the wealth also existent in India is implicit, often explicit.

Boo focuses on five people specifically, showing in vivid prose how they manage to survive—or don’t. It is a gut-wrenching account written in beautiful language, and well worth reading.

The book is categorized as narrative non-fiction; Boo includes very specific dialog, which gives the book the feeling of fiction. As I read it, I wished it had been fiction and not an incisive factual account of the impoverished lives of these determined and desperately poor people.

In case you are wondering, as I was, what the title refers to, near this slum is a wall advertising floor tiles; the words “Beautiful Forever,” written repeatedly, comprise the slogan for the tiles these people will never be able to own. Nothing about the lives of the Indians living here is beautiful—but everything is unforgettable. 

Dharavi Slum in Mumbai, India

Dharavi Slum in Mumbai, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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