|The Return of Persephone [Reading Weekend]
Just a few bits and bobs for a Friday. I am not in much of a bloggy mood right now.
Last year I had a blast and a half participating in the Persephone Reading Week hosted by Claire
. This year they have winnowed it down to a more host-friendly weekend. I will do at least one Persephone review, but I think this year I will quietly enjoy everyone else’s Persephone posts. (Is “else’s” a word?)
I think I am giving up on John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
. I kind of like all of the British intelligence agency background detail, but at page 165 it doesn’t seem to be much else. Even as I write this I am tempted not to give up. Early in 2010 I read The Arena
which is a crime novel, but it had some elements of intelligence agency/international intrigue that kind of piqued my interest in the a spy novel so I asked around the blogosphere for recommendations and came up with TTSS. I don’t think the recommendations were wrong, I just think my interest in this type of fiction is more limited than I thought.
A Clockwork Orange
Last night while walking Lucy, I got into a bit of a verbal altercation that probably escalated more than it needed to. I was totally in the right, but I let my OCD need to communicate exactly why the other person was wrong get the best of me. He was just so damn condescending (and wrong) that I couldn’t let it go. The net effect is that I felt a little sick to my stomach afterwards. That makes it sound more ominous than it was. It really was just a garden-variety altercation. But I have made a lot of progress in NOT being the cranky person who just gets crankier and crankier as he realizes that everyone else is an idiot. I guess the occasional slip is to be expected. It is kind of like the aversion therapy in A Clockwork Orange. I have seen the crazy movie but not read the book, but in that story a violent hooligan is injected with an illness-inducing drug while being exposed to violent images. The effect is that he eschews violence lest he become ill. In a much, much more milder form, these days when I get all hot and bothered over something, I get a little queasy afterwards.
Fewer Lesses and More Fewers
Literacy is a never-ending journey. It wasn’t until I was getting my second Master’s degree that I began to understand that the words “less” and “fewer” were not interchangeable. Simply put, the word “less” applies to things that are uncountable and “fewer” applies to things that can be counted. So something may have “less fat” by virtue of having “fewer grams of fat”. Once I fully took this concept on, I couldn’t keep myself from correcting people (in my head) every time they used “less” when they should have used “fewer”. But now I have gotten myself to the point where anytime anyone uses the word “less”, even when it is being used correctly, I change it to “fewer” in my head. It is like it has become an OCD (ah, mentioned twice now in this post) Mad Lib game for me. The other day on TV I heard someone say “I am less concerned about that” and in my head I changed it to “I am fewer concerned about that”. I’ve gone mental.
I'm sorry that little episode left you feeling queasy. That happens to me sometimes as well and I can never really put my finger on why. It just does.
I hope you have a good weekend. A nice, relaxing weekend is just what you need.
Be kind to yourself, Thomas. There are times when we all wish we could rewind a certain action or some words. Chalk it up to an experience you could have done without and try to move on. You seem like a pretty kind and decent sort to me.
I don't think I've ever thought about less/fewer, so I love that you brought it up. I'm always on my kiddos about much/many…same thing, opposite quantities. And I can totally identify with OCD Mad Lib games. :)
Here's hoping you have a nice, relaxing weekend. I'm going to start listening/watching for less and fewer now that you've put me on to it. :)
I've seen grocery checkouts that say “10 items or fewer” and I find it comforting. However, my pet peeve is “over” instead of “more than” which is a similar concept Over is for height, more than is for countable things, i.e., “Over 100 people bought this book,” you say, “More than.” I learned it in journalism school and it still makes me crazy.
And don't get me started about apostrophes.
Thomas – I do exactly the same thing, and not just with “less than/fewer” mistakes. I hear people incorrectly say “I” instead of “me” and vice versa (and with the other grammatical persons as well), and sometimes I find myself mentally correcting them even if it's right! You're definitely not alone there.
Heh! Just realized I do the “I” and “me” thing too. All the time. And I always have to check one , twice, at least that I have shut the back door/locked the car/turned off the stove.
Hope some glimpses of spring come your way this weekend …
Your post about less/fewer had me chuckling. I hope your day went better after the altercation. I get hot and bothered if I get into an argument with a stranger – it's a physical reaction that I can't control. Never happens in arguments with friends or family. Best to let these things go, I think, and not dwell on them.
I so do that with 'less' too – it always sounds wrong now, even when I know it's right.
Now I'm off to an early night with a Persephone book.
I much prefer watching the old BBC version of TTSS. In fact if you can rent it on DVD I think the whole series is well worth watching. Now I can't read the book without seeing the actors. I look forward to your one Persephone review very much!
I'm reading The Carlyles at Home for PRW because you mentioned it here!
You cracked me up about less and fewer! I didn't know about that so now I hope I can correct myself. I'm sure I've made these mistakes a LOT.
I've done the over-correcting thing, too. I'm just on the alert for certain mistakes (but completely blind to others).
Regarding spy novels, Jenny is a huge fan of both Charles McCarry and Alan Furst. I haven't read either, but she has said they should be as popular as LeCarre but just haven't caught on.
The less/fewer thing gave me a good giggle. I also used to mean to read spy fiction, because I love the BBC miniseries Cambridge Spies (based on real life spies Kim Philby and Guy Burgess who inspired Graham Greene and Le Carre as well I think, you might like it), but somehow besides The 39 Steps I've never really found a spy novel I got on with.
How about “anxious” versus “eager?” Or the overwhelming misuse of “reticent” when one really means to say “reluctant?” Oh sigh, it's all too much for me….
I'm missing your Persephone participation, Thomas, but fully appreciate if you are feeling less bloggy than normal.
Be good to yourself and indulge in the comfort reads on your nightstand pile.
I think you've confused me about less and fewer! This always happens when I try to understand grammar (which wasn't emphasised while I was in primary school. We were the experimental generation so now there's a whole generation with atrocious grammar). I still remember when I realised the difference between many and much.
Hope you feel more bloggy soon.
Love your tale of 'less' and 'fewer.' I can never remember 'further' and 'farther' no matter how many times I look them up.
Whenever I feel myself getting hot under the collar over something not worth fighting about (and often even then) I remind myself to choose peace over war. Peace is so much more… peaceful.
Unbloggy is a an ugly but wonderful word.
Thanks for your fine writing. I love your blog.
Ti: I am glad it does leave me a little queasy. I think it is a sign that I am striving to assess the appropriateness of my behavior.
Darlene: Thanks Darlene. I hope I generally am kind and decent.
Melody: Now that you bring it up I am not sure I get much and many correct. I will have to keep my eye on that.
Susan: Just don't become obssessed.
Karen: I think I may not be very vigilant in my use of over and more than.
Dan: As hard as I try, I don't think I will ever understand the I/me usage rules.
Mary: I tend to lock my car more than once.
Cristina: For me the issue with the stranger is that you typically don't have the chance to apologize so you are left with the bad feelings.
Simon: So I am not the only one. Phew.
Donna: I will have to check out the BBC version of TTSS. Maybe that will renew my interest in the book.
Audrey: I hope you like it.
Claire (KAC): Now that you know you will make: a) less mistakes or b) fewer mistakes.
Teresa: You are so right about being senstive to some mistakes and blind to others. I tried a Furst once, but didn't get very far.
Carolyn: If you want to take your interest in Cambridge Spies to a different place, rent the film “Another Country” with the young Rupert Everett and Colin Firth.
Barbara: I think I have been getting better with “anxious”.
Claire (PR): I really missed out ths weekend. But I got my bloggy back.
Mad: I think I may have been part of the same experimental generation.
Sarah: I need to look up further/farther. I am not sure if I get it right or not.
I am similarly fixated on less & fewer! It seems to be such a common mistake and I can't help correcting people ;)
I am not a bit spy fiction reader, but I did really enjoy William Boyd's Restless a while ago. That is the only one I can think of right now…