Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dictionary Stories

Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings by Jez Burrows, 208 pages

In this collection, Burrows presents everything from haikus to 50 more ways to leave your lover to short stories that often take a disturbing twist to some truly hilarious wine-tasting notes. It really is quite the cabinet of literary curiosities, though not one I'd necessarily recommend reading straight through.

HOWEVER, there is a fascinating twist to this collection: all of the stories, lists, and haikus are made up of the example sentences in 12 dictionaries owned by Burrows. In the prologue, Burrows lays out his method, his rules (including his decision to allow joining the examples by prepositions or conjunctions, but making sure that none of the changes amount to more than 5% of the whole), and exactly which dictionaries he referenced. So while there are some somewhat awkward portions throughout, it's more than understandable, considering that some of the sentences and phrases come from sources as varied as musicals, newspaper articles, and mystery novels. A fascinating exercise, and great fun for word geeks.

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