Excruciatingly Good

Give the author the tragic sense of Classic drama, roll him in the modern expansion of the craft of fiction, create a world which can contain all the great themes of literature, give the author a strong sense of language and you might approximate the strength of William Faulkner:  Aeschylus, Woolf, Hardy, Joyce in one author. But when you add the intense sense of history and the deep understanding of the South, you have a truly excellent writer and a truly excellent, albeit demanding, read.

Most of Faulkner’s work is well worth reading and many works are enhanced by repeated reading both to absorb the great complexity of the writing and also to discover the unique strength and vividness of the writing. My one complaint about Faulkner:  he makes most other authors seem silly and frivolous.

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Word of the Year

The Oxford University Press, in a new service for humanity, has announced that the first international word of the year has been selected and it is “squeezed middle.” Now even though this is not a word, has evidently  been around since 2010, and probably is unrecognized outside of Great Britain, I applaud the choice and intend to use it as often as possible, just as soon as I find out what it means.

A little research tells me that “squeezed middle” is a term popularized by  Ed Miliband, a British Labor MP who coined the political catchphrase in the fall of 2010. There is some suggestion that the phrase is deliberately vague to give the politician enough wiggle-room to apply it to whatever constituent he wanted to impress or commiserate with at the time. The official keepers of the lexicon are understandably distressed by the selection of this non-word known only in England that is so 2010, but what do they know about language?

Of course, this word-of-the-year is basically a publicity stunt and making even a vague nod at the current economic unrest was probably forced on Oxford. But there are so many other more deserving words. Here in the United States the word “occupy” has taken on a significant new meaning. Also, is it fair that only words in English are generally selected in processes such as this?

What other words might have been better candidates?