The OF Blog: A few simple banned words

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A few simple banned words

Or rather, words that I wish people would refrain from using in their commentaries and reviews:

1. Mainstream - it's just gauche and makes me think of very conservative talk show hosts and their audience who use the title as a pejorative. Just...stop...it. "Mainstream" literature means what, pray tell? Things you don't like? If that's the case, just shrug and move on.

2. Gritty - I find that sensation when I am ill, lay in bed for most of a day or two, and don't brush my teeth. I don't find it in literature. I have read bleak, unforgiving stories on occasion, but none of them contained sand in one's mouth/body parts or the similar sensation when one's teeth have not been brushed for a day or two.

3. Controversial - it's such a passé claim now. Controversy is manufactured more often than not and if I want something pre-fab, I'll buy something from IKEA, not from someone trying to stand out.

4. Edgy - sharp points annoy me, just like paper cuts do. "Edgy" I associate with those, not with literature that attempts to force the issue without just cause.

5. Scintillating - That word is to be used by Dicky V only. Got it? Good.

6. Best, (debut), novel - if these words are used in conjunction with a year without any real justification provided, forget it, I'm not buyin' it.

7. Shatneresque - oh wait, this isn't a banned word, but instead ought to be the epitome of what all should aspire to be.

Any comments, suggestions, snide remarks?

14 comments:

gav (nextread.co.uk) said...

I'll bite on "Mainstream". Only because I've been reading the introduction of Pilo Family Circus, which in itself was an experiment if the iPhone was any good as an ebook reader.

Anyway, the introduction was making the argument that because Pilo Family circus had been marketed at a mainstream and literary audience the publishers had missed or dismissed by genre reviewers and commentators. Leaving it to sink shortly after publication.

I know this probably isn't what you meant but it was interesting to read.

Which is probably why in the UK there is an effort to get the Sony Reader on literary blogs rather than the more geeky ones as they want them to go mainstream but without the underground build-up or getting them into the hands of the people that are going to have to show their mums how to actually get books on them. I'm sure my parents are still struggling with iTunes and their ipod.

"Best" is another interesting word, which I've used a bit. I guess I use it to say that the next book has to have a lot to live up to to knock it off my favourite read so far this year. It's probably better to say, 'xyz is my favourite abc-type of the year so far.'

Dave-Brendon de Burgh said...

Hehe, that was pretty good. :-) Glad I haven't used those words... yet. :-)

Fish Monkey said...

You forgot "pretentious"!!!!! And "literati".

Larry said...

I did! :O I guess those were such givens that I just plain forgot about them. Maybe they'll be in a supplemental edition later on? :P

Elena said...

i'm going to disagree on gritty, only because i *have* read books that make me want to take a shower afterward. that is the feeling i consider "gritty." i would consider american psycho to fit that, for example. i think i needed about 4 showers to wash some of those scenes out of my mind. and i still can't hear huey lewis without breaking into giggles...but i digress...

i will agree with the spirit of your ban on gritty, since you were targeting certain en vogue buzz words that are used so much they are meaningless. and that is one of them. lynch and abercrombie get called gritty a lot, and neither of them gave me that feeling...

Larry said...

Elena, I don't know how old you are, but I am reminded of the time when I was 14 years old and I was watching the 1988 Vice Presidential debate on TV, when Senator Bentsen put down Dan Quayle's comparisons to JFK. I can see it now:

Mr./Ms. Reviewer, I have known gritty, having read American Psycho. Your book (Lynch, Abercrombie, Finch, etc.) is no American Psycho gritty.


And yes, I remember when Huey Lewis and the News were huge and that section cracked me up when I read it! I'll never think of them the same way again.

Jeff C said...

I'd like to add a word to the banned list: tropes

I'm not sure I've read a review of a traditional fantasy book lately without 'tropes' appearing in the review somewhere.

Larry said...

I didn't use "tropes" in my review of Erikson's book, Jeff! :P

Elena said...

Larry - Ha! I'm 25, so I don't remember that debate, but I can imagine it.

And Jeff - excellent call on "tropes"

Swainson said...

I'm for adding stunning to the list of banned words.

This makes me think of getting a cattle prod to the back of the neck. Not something I want when reading, or any other time for that matter.

Anything with a recommendation by Anne McCaffrey on it is not getting into my collection.

Seth said...

Don't think I've used any of these yet, but my fantasy/sci-fi blog is brand-spankin'-new. :) Good guidelines though.

Seth said...

I'm glad I haven't used any of these yet. Of course, my fantasy site is brand-spankin'-new.

Eric said...

This topic is overhyped and not exactly groundbreaking.

Larry said...

Nice suggestions, especially considering the irony of Eric's words being applied to posts that note the absurdities of other such posts ;)

 
Add to Technorati Favorites