One of my favourite authors is back again, and this time he’s thrown us a curb-ball.
The Otford English Dictionary by John Dolan
Not to be confused with The Oxford English Dictionary, this is a reference book for the incurably cynical. Containing hundreds of definitions of a corny or inappropriate nature, it is the ideal gift for that person who hankers after the Good Old Days before political correctness, and who thinks a damn good hiding is still the best cure for anxiety.
If you are easily offended, you should probably buy a proper dictionary; though that won’t make you feel any less depressed about the modern world. But, let’s be honest, what could?
About the author:
“Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.”
John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.
He is the author of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series and the ‘Children of Karma’ mystery trilogy.
I have been a fan of John Dolan’s books for a number of years now, and although he is best known for his two pretty special detective/mystery series, set mostly in the Philippines, he’s published other books that fit less easily into a standard genre (not that his mysteries are formulaic in any way), and I’ve enjoyed it enormously as well. I’d read anything Dolan publishes without hesitation, and this unique book is further evidence of that. I didn’t know I needed this unique dictionary until I became aware of its existence, but now, it’s difficult to believe I’d manage all this time without it.
How can I comment on this book? As the description says, it is a dictionary. Not an exhaustive one, of course, as this is a rather short book, but a lot of us would be able to navigate most aspects of our everyday lives using the words in this dictionary. Although, depending on what we are doing and who we’re interacting with, we’d be better off keeping the definitions to ourselves. Because incurably cynical or not, most everybody would find something to feel offended about, or at least, feel one’s sense of humour stretched to the limit. Unless, of course, you have learned to laugh at yourself, and then, well, you’ll have a ball.
The book combines some of the best characteristics of what is considered “British humour”: we have puns and wordplay; we have a very dry sense of humour; we have self-deprecation; we have touches of the absurd and the whimsical; we have rude and politically incorrect comments (that ring so very true!); a fair bit of lateral thinking; and, of course, tons of wit.
I’m not sure what else can I say… The list of warnings would be too long to include (no topic is left untouched and nothing is safe or sacred here), and, this is not a book to read all in one go, although it is difficult to stop once you get going. On the other hand, you need to have your wits about you, because some of the definitions rely on pronouncing the words aloud, others on thinking outside of the box or making unusual connections, and you might miss much if you don’t give each definition sufficient time. So, read it in small doses, nip in and out of its pages, and go back to it again and again. I recommend rationing its laughs and pleasures to make it last because we all need a good dose of cynicism and a smart retort every so often.
It’s difficult to choose what to share to give prospective readers an idea of what to expect, but I’ll share a bit of the introduction, where the author explains his intentions and one of his definitions.
If you are looking for a learned work to assist with your wordsmithing, this is not it. If, on the other hand, you like an unseemly chuckle to relieve an otherwise tedious day, then this might be your thing. Of the definitions you will find in these pages, some are corny, some rely on wordplay, some need to be read out loud, and many are downright inappropriate for the modern age.
DOLANIC: adj. Term invented by the egotistical author of this tome to describe his writing: dark, peppered with gallows humour and often politically incorrect.
Now you know. If you aren’t put off by any of the comments above, congratulations. This dictionary is for you. Enjoy! And if you haven’t read any of Dolan’s previous books, what are you waiting for?
Thanks to the author for all the chuckles, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share, like, comment, click, review, and keep smiling.