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.


Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

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