Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr.

44. Alphabet Juice
by Roy Blount, Jr.
nonfiction, 2008
library book
abridged audio read by the author
finished, 8/5/10

I've got to read the fine print when I pick up an audio cd. I guess I just can't believe anyone would abridge a book. I thought the days of Reader's Digest Condensed Books were way in the past. But apparently not. This is what happened when I read Paula Deen's book, and now it has happened again with Roy Blount's Alphabet Juice. Though I wasn't so troubled with the former, I feel that Blount's book really shouldn't be abridged because of all the information it presents. To quote the Who, I 'won't get fooled again.'

At first I would say to Tom, oh, you've got to read this; you'll love it. Then one day I said, nah it's not that great. He couldn't figure out why the 360 change - addendum 180 - and neither could I. All I knew was that about two-thirds through the book, it felt like rushing toward the end. And then when I sat down to note it in my 2010 list of books read, there is was, the dreaded (to me) word, 'abridged.'

If you'd like to read a bit of the book before deciding if it is for you, the first chapter is here, and if you have a fast internet connection, and have some free time, there is a great video of him here.

Roy Blount, Jr. has such a gift for combining learning with humor. His joy in words is infectious. He's the teacher you always wanted. His passion for language is wonderful. The book's subtitle is: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory, which makes it irresistible to those who love words and language. I highly recommend it (and will search out a print version for myself).


  1. Mr. Blount is a treasure, isn't he? I cannot believe a publisher would allow that book to be abridged. Strange, and unwise.

    I love listening to him whenever he is one of the panelists on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - the NPR radio show. Wonderful!

  2. Yes, he is, Pamela. And I love his voice. I want to read more of his work.

  3. Let's start a grass roots campaign for NO ABRIDGED VERSIONS!!!

  4. You are so funny, Staci! I'm amazed that there are readers who don't mind abridged and even choose them. I visit a few libraries and the shelves are full of audio abridgements.

  5. I had no idea there were abridged versions of any books nowadays. Do you think they just do it for audio books?

    I have enjoyed reading Roy Blount before and I'm going to hunt for this book. He has a unique take on life.

  6. This sounds like just the book for Rod! I think I'll look for the unabridged audio version for myself, but buy the printed book (or ebook!) for Rod.

  7. Sallie, I can't tell you for sure about print books, but I don't think so. I can't understand why they put abridged versions on audio. I would think that any reader wants to read the whole book not part of it. And why would a writer allow it? Blount is an interesting man and I want to read more of his writing.

    Les, he will love it!

  8. Indeed, abridged books (audio or not) are something I certainly wouldn't want to bother with. If I simply want to know more about a book before I read it, a summary will do, but then, if my interest is captured, I want to read the FULL version.
    *Cleverclogs mode on*
    Sorry - I could not resist: a 360 degrees change means you get back exactly to where you started; 360 is a full circle :-) You probably meant a 180 degrees change, which means the opposite from where you started...
    *Cleverclogs mode off*

  9. I borrowed this book from the library and I have to say - it was great reading as a here and there scan - but I didn't have the patience to read it cover to cover (the mixed blessing of working at a library - get to look at a ton of books but there are too many books to sit down and read all the way through!).

  10. Librarian, merci oh cleverclogs! I've put an addendum in the post. :<)

    Susan, I think some of the joy of the book was in his voice, which made it sadder that it was abridged.

  11. I have a copy of Alphabet Juice sitting on my desk, Nan. It's the perfect book to pick up and open at a random page when your brain needs a little spark.

  12. I definitely want to buy this, Marcia. He's such a good writer.


I am really going to try and respond to your comments as soon as they come in! I'm so grateful for your notes.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.