Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

I picked up Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends, Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands. I really, really wanted to love this book. Who wouldn't? A creatively unique storyteller's take on my favorite topics? No brainer.

Perhaps I'm too blue collar. The first essay, an exploration of books as entertainment, was a slog for me. I think it had to do with two things: references to people and books I was clueless about and having to stop every five lines to look up a word's meaning. True confessions: I didn't know what solipsistically, or ontological, or lambency or parturition meant. And I only kind of knew what decoct and saturnine meant. So instead of feeling edified, I finished the essay wearing a saturnine expression.

What are your experiences with encounters like this? What word choice responsibilities do writers have to their readers?

Or should I just suck it up and pay more attention to the Increasing Your Word Power section in the Reader's Digest at my dentist's office?


  1. The world becomes a lonely place of disillusionment if a solipsistic view is taken into account. I have chosen to ban that word from my vocabulary because you, my friend, are just too naughty and vivacious to be a mere figment of my imagination :)

  2. I'm a big believer in not using a fancy word when a simple one will do. Otherwise it starts to be more about showing off than about getting your point across.