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The Future Dictionary of America Hardcover – August, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Mcsweeneys Books; Book & CD edition (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193241620X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, as well as the novel You Shall Know Our Velocity and the forthcoming short story collection How We Are Hungry (both published by Hamish Hamilton). Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of Everything Is Illuminated. His new novel will be published by Hamish Hamilton in 2005. Nicole Krauss is the author of Man Walks into a Room and A History of Love, which will be published by Viking in 2005. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

It's definitely worth having, I would like to give it 4 1/2 stars.
D. Anthony
This "future dictionary", like all good utopian and dystopian literature, is a mordant comment on our age.
Victor Serge
Thanks are owed to Foer, Eggers, et al. for their quality writing, work, and discerning eyes.
G. S. Ryan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By D. Anthony on August 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a really unique book. I kept hearing about how it was supposed to be really funny, and some of it is funny, but a lot of the entries are philosophical, or just artsy writing, or fun to think about in a science fiction kind of way; some of them aren't really political at all. Though I don't agree with conservative politics I don't like personal, mean attacks on people with different opinions and I was happy to find that overall, this book isn't caustic. With a few exceptions. Mostly its just fun, and the $$ is for a good cause.

It also contains some interesting extras like the Declaration of Independence and a charting of the evolution of Indo-European language families (I don't want to give a lot of stuff away). It's definitely worth having, I would like to give it 4 1/2 stars. But, the CD that comes with the book is truly a jewel and it definitely deserves 5 stars.

The CD contains several folksy type songs, several good rock songs, a couple of punk songs, a good r&b song, an interesting a capella song, and a remake of a real 19th century campaign ditty.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Victor Serge on August 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Who would think of reading a dictionary straight through, and for laughs? And who would have thought of writing one that anyone would want to? This "future dictionary", like all good utopian and dystopian literature, is a mordant comment on our age. Ostensibly published at some distant point in the future -- perhaps 100 years from now or more, judging from some of the entries -- the dictionary consists mostly of invented words, and invented definitions of familiar words. Some of it is slightly absurdist, some of it reflects a broad critique of the state of our culture, and some of it is a scalpel-edged swipe at the outrages of our current administration. The 150 or so writers who contributed entries for the book obviously had a great time. It is hard to imagine that they were not smiling to themselves as they wrote their definitions, just as it is hard to imagine any reasonably conscious American failing to smile as he or she reads them. Art and ideas can have consequences in the larger social and political arena, and the creators of this book obviously hope to have an impact. Whether or not it contributes to the outcome on November 2, though, this is a terrifically well conceived and well executed piece of work.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Frank Adamson on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's hard for me to write a fair review of this book for a number of reasons. When I ordered it from the McSweeney's website, it was as a part of their Cheapo Bundle, and the brief description mentioned absolutely nothing about politics (there was also no easily accessible link to the book's own web page). The book was said to contain "over 1,000 definitions by almost 200 authors, including Stephen King, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kurt Vonnegut... Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates... Art Spiegelman," etc., so I figured this was a "dictionary" of words created in the novels and stories of these authors, collected for the first time in one volume. I'm not mad that the volume turned out to be a political screed, since I only paid $4.50 for it (they don't call it the Cheapo Bundle for nothing), but I am disappointed.

The main problem with this book is that it isn't particularly funny. It seems to have been cobbled together in the last days before the 2004 election in an effort to gain more liberal votes, and I can't help but wonder if there wasn't too much of a rush. For a "future" dictionary of our country, many of the references are already well-outdated (though some have admittedly gained even more ground over the last four years). Most of the humor comes off as cynical or mean, sometimes both. Humorists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert can pull this off, but that's because they're actually funny. Most of the people involved in this project are the writers of serious fiction, and aren't too good with pithy humor.

I did, however, laugh at the definition of "misteak."

The music CD that came with the book is decent, if depressing. Most of the tracks are anti-war songs.

If you're looking for something to inflame your anger towards the Bush Administration, this is the book for you. If you're looking for an intellectual approach to current political issues, give it a pass.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T Watkins on August 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a funny book, but also sad. This is exactly the kind of thing that will make people think about this year's issues without giving them headaches. Superb work generally, but I especially like Sarah Vowell, Robert Olen Butler, and Ben Greenman. I hope this has the desired effect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Hoffknecht on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Future Dictionary is worth every penny and it is not that expensive. Also, it comes with a bonus CD that has some good bands and good tracks on it.
The definitions range from silly, serious, sad, thoughtful, and even just mean at times, but always funny and insightful.

Hundreds of writers and artists submitted work to put this book together and if you are a fan of McSweeneys, Dave Eggars, David Sedaris, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kurt Vonnegut, or any other great writer from this era, this is a book that you must have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Strawn on March 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a mixed bag, as you would expect from a book with dozens of contributors. Some of the entries are funny, some poignant, some political, some prescient. It makes for a varied experience paging through the hundreds of entries. My favorite entries are the ones that use their short space to tell a brief story, the imagined "history" of a word. This sort of micro-fiction is fun and just the right length. The bits that I hated were the entries that sprawl over several pages, eating up space and boring me with their length.

The most striking thing reading this book now is how grounded it is in 2004. For a book themed to be about the future many of these entries are specific to the past, or at the time the present. The least interesting, most dated entries are those about the "loss" of President Bush in the 2004 election. These seem, in hindsight, naive and foolish, as some engage in as ridiculous premises as President Bush's administration being charged with war crimes shortly after their electoral defeat and the economy immediately launching into the stratosphere with the election of a Democrat as President. Sadly laughable now.

Anachronistic predictions aside, the book is largely entertaining and fun. The only frustrating bit is that it is not easy to find entries by the same contributor. This would be nice as many contributors link their entries together into a larger tapestry. The CD that comes with it is a mixed bag again, but it has some good songs on there.
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