Monday, November 1, 2010

It’s not rocket science and other irritating modern cliches

Book Club... And Then Some!

It’s not rocket science and other irritating modern cliches

by Clive Whichelow and Hugh Murray

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
This is a 5-inch by 7 1/4th-inch, 194-page book full of cliches and their explanations.

There are general cliches as well as cliches from the arenas of the media, entertainment, commercial, and business, and those in the political, and social areas, too.

I loved Whichelow and Murray’s first two sentences of the introduction to the book: “Over 50 years ago the film producer Samuel Goldwyn said, ‘Let’s have some new cliches!’  Well we’ve got shedloads of new cliches—and then some!”  Do you see why I like the first two sentences so much?  No, it’s not the substitution of “shedloads” for a much racier way of saying the same thing.  It’s the last three words: “and then some”
—the name of my publishing company!

Do you want to know what I find most fascinating about this collection?  Being a writer, I am 1) amazed at how many of these cliches I recognize, and 2) how many of these cliches I have used (or continue using), and 3) how many cliches I have never heard.  Now, it must be understood that this book was produced in England; thus, there would be some that are particular to Great Britain.

I have never heard of “gobsmacked” which means surprised, “but perhaps to about the power of ten” (p. 28), “(I nearly) choked on my cornflakes” (p. 14), “going pear-shaped” (p. 29), “schadenfreude” which means “delight in other people’s misfortunes” (p. 86), “z-list celebrities” (p. 100), “shoot the puppy” which means “to consider the most extreme and controversial course of action” (pp. 136-137), “beggars belief” which is “often used by opposition politicians to express their complete astonishment at some piece of government incompetence” (p. 149), and “ring-fence” the building of “dirty great, probably electric, fences around [money] . . . to stop themselves [from getting to it]” (p. 161).

Here is what’s interesting about the list in the previous paragraph: it consists of very few words out of hundreds listed in the book.  In other words, the authors have, indeed, selected highly recognizable, common (by definition) cliches that most readers will recognize.  That makes the book fun, entertaining, and (at least a little bit) informative.

This is an enjoyable, short read.  

This book is available from It’s not rocket science and other irritating modern cliches.

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