Thursday, April 13, 2017


So I'm reading a review in the latest issue of Bookforum of a memoir that not even a Ginsu knife pressed against my throat by the author's agent could induce me to buy, when I come across the word "eclaircissement." I took five years of French in high school and college, a fact my wife claims can't be true

whenever I try to speak French, which is rare. Or as we say in French: rare. I should know this word. I recognize eclair. Who doesn't? I look at the sentence in question: "To the extent that the book has a eclaircissement, it's in the stunning details about her family." Does the book have an eclair-like tone to it, whatever that might be? Is it creamy and sweet and delicious when describing her family? Were her parents bakers? No, they were not. How stupide am I? (Spare me, dear friends, spare me.) I give up, look it up. What an anti-climax: eclaircissement is from the French eclairir: to clear up, a clarification, an enlightening explanation. Why the reviewer couldn't have written that in English I'd rather not consider, since I'd probably go on one of my rants, and there's too much truly rant-worthy material out there already. So some of you may have learned something: eclaircissement is a nice French word that really should never be used in book reviews published in English. I hope that was an enlightening explanation. Merci.


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