Monthly Archives: August 2020

Vivacious (adjective)

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  1. Lively in temper, conduct or spirit: sprightly.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 10 August 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Meredith carefully moved her cup of tea out of the way, and smoothed out the newspaper in front of her. She could have read the review of her debut novel online, but there was something deeply satisfying and momentous about turning to good old-fashioned print. After all, she often still wrote with pen and paper.

Her hands shook just a little. Her heart raced.


Review of Must Hate Dogs, by Meredith Caspin

Ms Caspin displays an audacious capacity for creating complex and vivacious characters that incite envy, compassion and hate in the reader, and all in equal measure. The main character’s antics involving his aunt and her knitting circle are a fascinating reflection of today’s vulgar infatuation with narcissism. And, although predictable, the scene where he bludgeons the dog and tosses the collar nonchalantly over his shoulder is still shocking and gruesome, and perfectly demonstrates his unhinged nature and the nature, indeed, of all those smarting from the 21st century’s rebuke.  

But ultimately, Caspin’s debut novel is only one more in a conga line of dystopian tales that seek a perverse if subtle revenge on previous generations and their idealistic literature. Who cares if the dog died? The answer, Caspin seems to want to tell us, is nobody. And if nobody cares, why should the reader?

A wholesome effort, but generally forgettable.

Meredith realised her jaw was hanging open and her eyes were watering. The reviewer was known for his blunt and scathing evaluations, especially of debut novels – he felt it was his duty to play the priest in a baptism of fire. She had steeled herself for criticism, but this – this was a bloody execution. The worst of it was that she didn’t even understand half of it. Rebuked by the 21st century?  Perverse if subtle revenge?

Meredith got up from the table, picked up her cup of tea and hurled it out the open back door with a vehemence she didn’t know she was capable of. After breathing hard and grinding her teeth for a moment, she turned her back on the smashed pieces of ceramic and went to her kitchen cabinet. She rummaged around until she found a half bottle of wine she’d opened a while ago, for cooking. Meredith didn’t drink, and the wine was already far gone. But she unscrewed the lid and took a long swig.

Then she collapsed into a chair and burst into tears. She howled too, unashamed. Woeful and destroyed.  

Aficionado (noun)

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  1. A person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity: devotee.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 4 August 2020)

Use it in a sentence

It was only their fourth date, so Jess and Tom were still on their very best behaviour, both very polite and careful. They were certainly comfortable with each other, but they hadn’t even begun to test the limits. When Tom had asked Jess if she was into jazz, she answered yes immediately, thinking about John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and all those other classics born last century. Tom claimed to be a jazz aficionado and had become rather animated about his favourite club, The Black and Ivory Keys.

Now they made their way from the dark of night to the dark of the club and immediately Jess was taken aback by the silence of the audience. It was jam packed, with people standing at the bar, in the corners, wedged around tiny round tables, all enraptured by the trio playing on stage. The audience were so close to the musicians that a man in front flinched each time the double bass player launched into a spirited bit of playing.

Tom’s face lit up as he took her hand and led her toward the bar. ‘Oh wow! I didn’t realise these guys were playing tonight. Damn this is going to be good. Experimental jazz,’ he said, grinning.

Jess narrowed her eyes suspiciously. Experimental, she thought to herself, I don’t think I’m going to hear any Miles Davis here tonight.

They both slipped quietly into bar stools just vacated, and settled in with their gin and tonics.

It was only then that Jess was able to get her bearings and focus on the music. Her face was soon a kaleidoscope of expressions which included astonishment, dismay, confusion and, finally, pain. She quickly deduced that experimental jazz had no melody, no tune, no lyrics, or indeed any discernible rhythm or beat.

The trumpet player used his whole body to do play – his head thrown back, then pitched forward, rising up on his toes then rocking backwards, all whilst blowing into the mouthpiece. But the only sound that came out were odd squirts and burps.

The guitarist plucked at his strings almost viciously, resentfully, as though daring it to make a tune.

But Jess was transfixed by the percussionist. His face was agony and ecstasy at once. He hit, flicked, tapped everything with his drumsticks, dropping them now and then and swatting at things with his hand instead. At one point, he picked up his snare drum, cradled it in his arms, and blew on the side of it, much like a father might blow on his baby’s bare tummy. It made the same sort of noise.

Twenty minutes later ‘Song 1’ finally finished. But they launched immediately into ‘Song 2’ so that Jess could not even catch her breath.

She soon had a crick in her neck from cocking her head sideways in consternation. She looked at Tom who was mesmerised and smiling vaguely, happily.

He caught her eye. ‘What do you think?’

Jess felt unreasonably angry. Watching the trio was like watching two silly and naïve teenagers smooching in a car. There was a lot of thrashing about and the windows steamed up, but they didn’t know what to do with their passion and in the end they would go home unsatisfied and wondering what happened exactly.

She frowned at him and whispered in his ear. ‘This is the most self-indulgent, egotistical, narcissistic load of artistic shit I’ve ever heard. I’ve got a massive headache. I’m going home.’

Jess slipped as quietly as she could from her stool, shaking her head, and made quickly for the door.

It wasn’t going to work out with Tom.

Demure (adjective)

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  1. Reserved, modest
  2. affectedly modest, reserved, or serious: coy.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 5 August 2020)

Use it in a sentence

True, it was an odd word to use for a man, but he could only be described as demure. You might have said he was modest – a straightforward chin, hands comfortably clasped in front of him, an easy smile. Self-possessed, that might do as well.

But there was no way of getting around the fact that everything in the strip joint was sexualised. So the bouncer, in his slim fit suit and clean shaven face, could only be demure in the way of coy women. He never showed an ounce of flesh more than was required – a wrist here, a smooth neck there, when it was too hot for a tie and his boss told him to loosen up. He never touched the girls, but he protected them fiercely, like an older brother. He spoke quietly, placed a gentle hand on the girls’ elbows and air-kissed their cheeks in a very French way.  

So it was rather a shock when everyone learned about his depravities. No one asked him anything directly, but the word ran riot through the club and the girls raised their eyebrows and the patrons guffawed loudly. He came to learn of his partner’s indiscretions and while he was peeved, nothing came of it and he didn’t make any sort of fuss. Of course, he quietly dropped the partner, but nobody got hurt. It’s not as though anyone was fussed by his proclivities – goodness knows, it was difficult to be shocked by anything at the club – but it was just that demure demeanour of his that made everyone wonder what else he was capable of and what else he might be hiding.