Synopses & Reviews
In this slender volume Menaker (My Mistake) a former editor at the New Yorker and Random House delivers a wry look at a particular type of poor usage that he deems “the African svelte.” The African svelte is “the verbal equivalent of trying to put a shoe on the wrong foot” because it somehow fits anyway Menaker explains referring to unintentionally misused words that produce comprehensive sentences. Menaker introduces the concept with the story of its namesake: he came across the sentence “the zebra were grazing on the African svelte” while reading through the fiction slush pile at the New Yorker magazine and was so amused that he started keeping a working list of similar slippages. He also muses on the Internet’s effect on language and other types of word gaffes including spoonerisms malapropisms eggcorns etc. The bulk of the book consists of numbered examples of sveltes along with short explanations of their provenance. Illustrator Chast (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?) chimes in to illustrate entries intermittently throughout the book (her sketch for “the terrorist was wearing a baklava” being particularly funny). The result is an amusing romp through the English language that will please language snobs and open minded linguists. Bamp;w illus. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Inspired by his tenure at The New Yorker, this collection of comical, revelatory errors foraged from the wilds of everyday English comes with commentary by the author, illustrations by Roz Chast, and a foreword from Billy Collins.
During his time at The New Yorker, Daniel Menaker happened across a superb spelling mistake: -The zebras were grazing on the African svelte.- Fascinated by the idea of unintentionally meaningful spelling errors, he began to see that these gaffes--neither typos nor auto-corrects--are sometimes more interesting than their straight-laced counterparts. Through examples he has collected over the course of his decades-long career as an editor and writer, he brings us to a new understanding of language--how it's used, what it means, and what fun it can be. Illustrated by the inimitable Roz Chast, with a foreword from former poet laureate Billy Collins, The African Svelte offers thoughtful and intelligent exit Jesus. Menaker glances at familiar fumbles like -for all intensive purposes- and -doggy-dog world, - but readers delighted by language will find themselves turning the pages with baited breath to discover fresh howlers that have them laughing off their dairy airs.