“A sublime anthology” of essays, memoirs, stories and careful considerations from sixty-six writers riffing on a single word (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
In this darb collection, Molly McQuade asks the question all writers love to answer: what one word means the most to you, thrills you, or sets your teeth on edge? And why?
Writers respond with a wild gallimaufry of their choosing, from ardor to bitchin’ to thermostat to wrong and very. There is corn, also—not the vegetable but the idea, defining cultural generations; solmizate, meaning to sing an object into place; and delicious slang, such as dassn’t. Composed as expository or lyric essays, zinging one-liners, extended quips, jeremiads, etymological adventures, or fantastic romps, the writings address not only English words but also a select few from French, German, Japanese, Quechua, Basque, Igbo, and others. Fascinating, funny, and ingeniously curated from critics, novelists, translators, poets, and academics, “the words profiled here have a new trace of meaning, warmth, and a time-worn glow” (John Morse, publisher of Merriam-Webster, Inc.)