Salutations and welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature. Tabatha here once again to share more adventures in teaching. It seems one primary goal of college freshmen is to make their instructor feel old (and cripes I’m only 23!), whether it be through complete ignorance of the 1990’s or a blank stare after I say “cripes.” The latest proof that anyone over 20 is old is the realization that we speak a different language. A student recently explained that words I thought were only underused (read: too long for twitter) are in fact dead language. So today, I am out to refute the assertion with titles fraught with just the scarce wordage which have erroneously been designated as jargon.
The Defenestration of Bob T. Hash III: A Novel by David Deans
The first title on the list has it all, metamorphosis, avian infidelity, and of course one of my favorite words in The Defenestration of Bob T. Hass III: A Novel.
In a picture-postcard town, in the sunny suburban home of Bob T. Hash III, something altogether strange and amazing has occurred: An African gray parrot (and beloved pet) named Comenius has suddenly and unexpectedly transformed into a man. It seems this unassuming exotic bird, heretofore content to mind its own business, has miraculously metamorphosed into the spitting image of his unsuspecting master, Bob T. Hash III–right down to the smartly pressed suit, dashing necktie, and sensible horn-rims.
As luck (or some darker design?) would have it, no one witnesses this astonishing feat of shapeshifting. And in a serendipitous twist of fate (luck’s fickle cousin), the genuine Bob T. Hash III–having apparently absconded to Acapulco with his charming assistant–is conveniently AWOL. Thus the coast is clear for the puzzled (but not entirely displeased) parrot to exit the wings and do what parrots do best: imitate their owners–a charade the avian impostor rises to effortlessly, slipping with nary a misstep into the shoes, the career, and even the marital bed (!) of Bob T. Hash III. But when, having taken the reins as CEO of the Acme International Institute of Languages, he stumbles upon a heinous act of corporate (and grammatical) sabotage, Comenius begins to suspect he’s being stalked–by himself–and it suddenly looks as if his best laid plans might just be heading south.
Think Kafka, inverted, upended, and gleefully reverse-engineered by Monty Python. Think Borges, deconstructed by Lewis Carroll and reassembled with spare parts scavenged from The New Yorker and MAD. Analogies abound, yet nothing can truly compare to the comic broadsides, dazzling wordplay, cheeky wit, and wholly original flights of imagination working their magic in David Deans’s inventive new novel.
Next comes another word that really is in danger of falling off the linguistic map, conveniently eponymized in:
The Somnambulist by Johnathan Barnes
With a tale of magic, performance, mystery, and sleepwalking, Johnathan Barnes’ The Somnambulist (Domino Men #1) promises an interesting adventure.
Once the toast of good society in Victoria’s England, the extraordinary conjurer Edward Moon no longer commands the respect that he did in earlier times. Still, each night he returns to the stage of his theater to amaze his devoted, albeit dwindling, audience, aided by his partner, the Somnambulist a silent, hairless, hulking giant who, when stabbed, does not bleed. But these are strange, strange times in England, with the oddest of sorts prowling London’s dank underbelly. And the very bizarre death of a disreputable actor has compelled a baffled police constabulary to turn once again to Edward Moon for help inevitably setting in motion events that will shatter his increasingly tenuous grasp on reality.
Zombie Men, eDating and Mastication by Maura Stone
Here we join two often oppositional worlds: the internet and vocabulary expansion. In just the title of Zombie Men, eDating and Mastication (eDating Advice from the Bubbameistah #1) Maura Stone combines the rhetorically fast and loose world of online self-presentation with vocabulary guaranteed to send an internet reader to the dictionary.
The first and only comedic dating ebook which dispenses advice to mortal women about the pitfalls of meeting zombie men online. A must read as they’re taking over the internet.
Known for her once-in-a-generation wit and great writing style, Ms. Stone wrote the ONLY comedy advice books about online dating under the series, eDating Advice from the Bubbameistah. Zombie Men, eDating and Mastication is a parody of the first book of the dating series, Men, eDating and Mast*****ion, itself a parody of a best-selling dating book. These books help women discern the types of men who frequent dating sites. In the Special Edition, Ms. Stone kicks it up a notch or two and brings in the zombie element, targeted to the undead enthusiasts.
Next-to-last, we’ve got an interesting option which may just go to prove that those whippersnappers may not be too far off in their estimation of this elderly twenty-something teacher, because I would really like to read
The Case of the Negligent Nymph (Perry Mason #35) by Erle Stanley Gardner
While I prefer not to investigate how much of this title would fly over the heads of my teenage students, The Case of the Negligent Nymph not only reopens the doors to superlative adjectives but also to a character now relegated to the late-night insomniac crowd.
While Perry Mason is enjoying a moonlit canoe ride, he admires a naked bathing beauty. Little does he know he’ll soon be rescuing her- and that next day he’ll have to clear her of a jewlery-theft charge. But then she’s suddenly charged again- this time with murder. It takes all of Perry’s wiles, Della’s insights, and Paul Drake’s deft detecting to solve The Case of the Negligent Nymph. Erle Stanley Gardnew is the king of American mystery fiction. A criminal lawyer, he filled his mystery masterpieces with intricate, fascinating, ever-twisting plots. Challenging, clever, and full of surprises, these are whodunits in the best tradition.
Finally, we end the lexical rant with some uncommon words of advice.
Words Gone Wild: Puns, Puzzles, Poesy, Palaver, Persiflage, and Poppycock by Jim Bernhard
Not content to just yell about the linguistically challenged generation, we at the Fiction Feature are actually prepared to do something about it! (If by “do something about it” you mean send them to a bookstore with a shopping list) with Words Gone Wild: Puns, Puzzles, Posey, Palaver, Persiflage, and Poppycock.
Chock-full of jokes and entertaining twists of the tongue, this lighthearted but scholarly guide to humorous language is a sure hit with word lovers. The examples are entertainingly bawdy, with a delightful narrative voice in word sleuth and author, Jim Bernhard. He provides examples and puzzles, teaching a smidgen of historical and etymological scholarship, but above all, amusing his audience.
Puns from Greek dramatists, Shakespeare, the Bible, George S. Kaufman, and Groucho Marx vie for attention with comical spoonerisms, droll malapropisms, witty anagrams, and humorous palindromes—plus original material by the author—including limericks, clerihews, crossword puzzles, acrostic puzzles, tongue twisters, and other kinds of word play. Some examples:
Why does a match box? Because it sees a tin can.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. The pony was unable to talk because he was a little hoarse. Two peanuts went into a bar. One was a salted. The chicken that crossed the road was pure poultry in motion. As the gardener said when asked why he was cutting grass with a pair of scissors: That’s all there is; there isn’t any mower.”