Sunday, October 16, 2005

elster's what in the word?

For the fan of random thoughts and word play, this book has it all. Every chapter features original brainteasers, challenging puzzles, and a trove of literary trivia. Want to know the meaning behind “pushing the envelope”? Would you have guessed that most people mispronounce Brontë (it rhymes with Monty). Did you know that the phrase “happy as a clam” is really an abbreviated form of the simile “happy as a clam at high tide”? Perhaps you’re looking for that perfect word to describe something very unique. Charles Harrington Elster has it all. Elster uses a lively question-and-answer format to cover a variety of topics, word and phrase origins, slang, style, usage, punctuation, and pronunciation. While the book is enjoyable as a browsing book, it would’ve benefited from having an index. As it is, the book is fun for casual reading, but not for those coming to the book with a serious question. Although it’s not an ideal reference book, it’ll benefit those who are curious and those looking for some brainteasers.


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