It’s a week before Christmas, so I figured I’d clear out the pile of review books as an aid to those casting about for last-minute presents:
1) Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by Gyles Brandreth, “writer, broadcaster, and wit.” Does what it says on the tin; if you want humorous quotations, this has a whole lot of ’em. Fifth edition of an old standby.
2) The Eclectic Encyclopedia of English is a collection of material from On Language columns by Nathan Bierma, an old LH favorite. He quotes Anatoly Liberman on etymology, David Crystal on pedantry, and in general has a splendidly sensible approach to matters linguistic.
3) Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices by Peter Aleshkovsky, translated by Nina Shevchuk-Murray: this is a double collection of stories, the first group (which I’ve long enjoyed dipping into in Russian) from the early ’90s and set in 1990, the second new and set in 2010, all of them loving snapshots of a Russian provincial town.
4) The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas by Dmitry Chen, translated from Russian by Liv Bliss, is a historical adventure novel set in Iran and Central Asia in the year 749, just as the Abbasid Revolution was getting under way. I’ve long been fascinated by that time and place, and this is the first of a trilogy; I’m looking forward to it!