From Library Journal
This latest collection of Safire's (Quoth the Maven, LJ 8/93) internationally syndicated columns on language will appeal to language buffs and mavens. How did it come to be that one kind of bubba dispenses chicken soup while another is a Southern football player? What does it mean to "cock a snook"? In the language of diplomacy, how do contact, dialogue, and exchange differ? Though a political conservative, Safire is a linguistic liberal, accepting, though sometimes reluctantly, that language evolves. "It's me" sounds okay. Since his chapters can be read randomly, readers less fascinated by D.C.-speak than Safire can skip those sections. Safire often seems star-struck: Charlton Heston called to ask him whether "larger than life" implies "unreal"; "Jacques" [Barzun] dropped him a note commenting on the word denounce. This is a book that will appeal to those who love "the language dodge." (Index not seen.) [For another view of Safire, see "Safire Reads LJ," Inside Track, LJ 7/94, p. 72.-Ed.]-Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.--Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The best part of Safire's collected columns is the responses from readers that he selects to publish: the corrections from the "Gotcha Gang," the erudite explications from professorial types, the defenses from public officials, etc. Not that Safire's nationally syndicated columns aren't worth reading again and again, but printed with reactions from his fans and critics they are even better. Here, for instance, you'll find Safire's exquisite meditations on summer reading, whether it's to be done "on the beach," "at the shore," or, in New Jersey, "down the shore." Many other colloquialisms, common expressions, and mangled terms are taken apart, examined, and put to use in witty, instructive ways. Denise Perry Donavin