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Friday, December 12, 2008

Drinking from the chalice of Alphabet Juice

We often applaud the efforts of geniuses as they explore things remarkably far from the box (not just outside it) but we're far more enamored of the Guru who embraces knowledge and delivers an easily accessible dissection of their portion of the universe.

Truly amongst the best of the modern-day bards of language and it's use is Roy Blount Jr. Author, speaker and pundit, he seems equally at home behind the podium as ensconced on a porch swing. NOTE: We've never seen him on a swing but we know he's adept at it, okay?

So our surprise and delight was evident as we listened to RBJ as he spoke with Bob Edwards this morning regarding his new -- just in time for your gift list -- effort, Alphabet Juice.

Hearing him describe it, read from it and share the wit and wisdom behind it was delicious and we immediately ordered copies for favorite people. We would highly recommend you do the same. In difficult times, a prudent but truly thoughtful gift is um, good, and this will be a delight for the word smith or reader in your crowd. Here's what Michael Dirda at the Washington Post had to say:

If your eyes have only skimmed over the long subtitle of Alphabet Juice and just vaguely registered that the book has something to do with words, please go back and read the entire subtitle again, slowly. This time listen to the syncopation of the clauses, as well as the alliterative music of the p's and t's, then note the juxtaposition of high and low style ("combinations thereof," "innards"), the punchy yet unexpected nouns ("gists," "pips"), that touch of genteel sexual innuendo ("secret parts"), and the concluding flourish of the gustatory. Like Roy Blount Jr. himself, his new book's subtitle neatly balances real learning with easy-loping charm. But then Blount isn't merely the ah-shucks Georgia boy he might sometimes seem; he's a Georgia boy who was a Phi Beta Kappa at Vanderbilt and has an M.A. in English from Harvard. Moreover, for the past 40 or so years he has supported himself by a versatile and distinctly pleasing way with words, having been successively (or even simultaneously) a sports reporter, essayist, cultural commentator, light versifier, occasional actor, novelist, lecturer, oral storyteller and anthologist (Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor). Though generally slotted as a humorist (in the down-home vein of Will Rogers and Garrison Keillor), Blount is still serious enough to be a longtime usage adviser to the American Heritage Dictionary, a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and a star of National Public Radio's quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me." And therein lies a mystery: Given all this energetic freelancing, how does the man somehow manage to sound -- in person and on the page -- as if he spent most of his time lounging on an old davenport, with a cold Abita Amber in his hand, watching football or basketball on TV?
So, that being said, we truly embrace his work, his smarts and love of the language. All the qualities we seek in a Guru. If you'd like to learn more about Mr. Blount, you can find him here.

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