Sunday, 14 March 2010

Some book reviews

As well as the usual escapist stuff, I have read (or re-read) some interesting books recently.  While my opinion and $5 will get you a poor cup of coffee this may be of amusement to some folks.

The first sample is "Born to Kvetch" by Michael Wex.   It is a fairly technical study of Yiddish as a langage and a culture but based aroud the use of complaints and curses as a backstay of the language and culture.  I found it very clever and entertaining and am using some of the kvetches in my posts (where some  schlemiel merits the bobkes).  A useful resource might also be the Wikipedia page showing how English (especially in New York) has acquired some of the words.

It is interesting that while both sources translate bobkes as meaning, literally, goat-turds the Wiki idiomatic meaning is 'nothing' while Mr Wex goes for the stronger 'SFA'.  Which leads to a funny story.  I looked up 'bobkes' on Google and found one of the references was a record from Ellis Island in which it was given as the family name of an arrival.  I wonder how it would sit with the Dept of Homeland Security (or their colleaguees in any country) if the answer to the question - or more likely snarling grunt - "What is your name?" was "SFA"?

Secondly is "How to amputate a leg" by Nathan Mullins.  In essence this is the story of his working life as a commando, police person and private security operative.  I found myself laughing quite a lot at this (as intended by Mullins) since he seems to have had the assetts to do quite a few things I would find great fun.  He doesn't amoputate a leg but the instructions are quoted!

Thirdly is "Australian Bats" by Sue Churchill.  Since it is in a second edition I presume the first edition got the recognition it desereved and sold like hot cakes!   An excellent guide to these mammals, which was acquired after I caught a bat in our bedroom.  As well as the species accounts a good lot of general information about them.

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