Time for another roundup of review books:
1) In their proud boast, “Speculative Grammarian is the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguistics,” and The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics is (again in their words) “a large collection of SpecGram articles, along with just enough new material to force obsessive collectors and fans to buy it, regardless of the cost…. This anthology, it is hoped, will allow our readers to gain a deeper, wider, fatter understanding of linguistics as it evolved in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, without the trouble of having to take a graduate seminar in ‘Modern Linguistics’ taught by a professor who’s so old that she thinks the Beach Boys are cute.” Don’t wait for Jon Stewart or Louis C.K. to do something with linguistics—it ain’t gonna happen. Just get this book and give a copy to everyone who needs a laugh.
2) Melissa Mohr’s Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing does just what it says on the cover. Colin Burrow in the LRB disputes “her principal historical claim: that Judaeo-Christian monotheism shifted the centre of obscenity from bodily and sexual taboos to oath-making and breaking,” but there’s plenty of good material here whether you accept her generalizations or not.
3) I can’t believe I still haven’t gotten around to Andrei Gelasimov’s The Lying Year, which came out back in January; I loved his earlier Thirst, and this is also translated by the peerless Marian Schwartz. But I’m looking forward to it.
4) Another AmazonCrossing translation, this time from Spanish, just recently arrived and is coming out next month: The Scribe, by Antonio Garrido, looks like a lot of fun: “The year is 799, and King Charlemagne awaits coronation as the Holy Roman emperor. But in the town of Würzburg, the young, willful Theresa dreams only of following in the footsteps of her scholarly father—a quiet man who taught her the forbidden pleasures of reading and writing.” A mystery featuring Alcuin of York? How can I resist?

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