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Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings Paperback – Illustrated, April 10, 2018
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“Dictionary Stories isn’t just a book for word nerds, but for anyone for whom language and story matter. Everybody, A-Z, will find themselves thoroughly in love with this book.” (Kory Stamper, lexicographer and editor for Merriam-Webster, and author of Word by Word)
“Jez has long been one of my favorite illustrators, and now he comes up with Dictionary Stories—sentences stolen from dictionaries and pasted together into tiny, delightful narratives. A brilliant literary remix.” (Austin Kleon, New York Times bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist)
“Until you read Dictionary Stories, you’ll never understand just how weird the dictionary really is. Jez Burrows’ Dictionary Stories is all of human emotion and experience, handily arranged in alphabetical order” (Erin McKean, former editor of the New Oxford American Dictionary and founder of Wordnik)
“Brilliantly, brazenly fun. Like a cabaret for word lovers.” (Sean Michaels, author of Giller Prize-winning novel Us Conductors)
“Burrows has a talent for a delightfully askew existentialism… The stories are wickedly short but exquisitely rendered, accompanied by whimsical, minimalist illustrations by the author. A fabulist remix of the English language and a tribute to clever lexicographers everywhere.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“[An] entirely original collection… With a deft eye for depth and irony, Burrows plucks seemingly inane phrases…and arranges them into haunting, hilarious, and human minidramas.” (Booklist)
“Uproarious and ingenious… What sounds like mere novelty turns out to be a revelation in Burrows’s hands, as unlikely sentences generate even more unlikely narratives. Dictionary Stories is a joyful celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Chaotically engaging...exemplary...majestic.” (KQED)
“A serendipitous reading experience...Burrows challenges our ideas of the writing process and unpacks our understanding of what is literary.” (Ploughshares)
From the Back Cover
Jez Burrows opened the New Oxford American Dictionary and sat, mystified. Instead of the definition of “study” he was looking for, he found himself drawn to the strangely conspicuous, curiously melodramatic sentence that followed it: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.” It read like a tiny piece of fiction on the lam and hiding out in the dictionary—and it wasn’t alone. Was it possible to reunite these fugitive fictions? To combine and remix example sentences to form new works? With this spark and a handful of stories shared online, Dictionary Stories was born.
This genre-bending and wildly inventive collection glows with humor, emotion, and intellect. Effortlessly transcending sentence level, Burrows lights between the profound and the absurd, transporting readers into moments, worlds, and experiences of remarkable variety. Featuring original illustrations by the author, Dictionary Stories is a giddy celebration of the beauty and flexibility of language.
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Now whenever I need a little creative boost or inspiration, I'll pick up the book and flip through the delightful stories collected within it.