When I first moved to the UK, a lot of grammatical and spelling things grated on my nerves. As I’ve lived here longer and longer, most of those things have stopped annoying me so much and I’ve gotten used to them. Except for one. It is an abomination and an assault on the English language. I’m talking about the British habit of using “hot” as a verb.
The first time I saw this was when I was watching tv and I saw a commercial for Strictly Come Dancing in which the announcer said, “The competition is really hotting up!” I thought it was stupid. We already have a perfectly good word for that situation: heating. How does “hotting” sound any better than “heating”? It doesn’t. Is it somehow “cool” to randomly mutilate the English language?
Anyway, I ignored it at first because I hated Strictly Come Dancing and figured that maybe they thought their viewers were too stupid to know how to use the word “heating”. Then Jennie Bond did it. The BBC correspondent to the Royal family. A woman who hangs with the queen said, on The Great British Menu, “The competition is really hotting up.” Why, Jennie?
I was content to let is go as long as it was just on British tv and not likely to spread any further. I was almost okay with it when I was reading a book by British comedian Al Murray and he said on page 163 “Things only really hot up after the cowboys…” I mean, Al Murray is a caricature of a drunken Brit, so he’s allowed to use the most obnoxious Britishisms in his comedy, I guess.
But then Jasper Fforde used it. Jasper Fforde. A real author who writes real, meaningful prose. Yeah, it’s comedy, but it’s comedy that makes you think. How could an author that I truly admire do this? On page 311 of The Well of Lost Plots he writes, “…the battle with non-fiction is hotting up; more than they care to tell us about.”
I’m not okay with this. Mr. Fforde, I think you should issue an apology for doing this to the English language. Don’t you realize that Americans could read that and emulate you? Americans look up to the British like an older brother. They think everything England does is cool. Please set a better example for your siblings in America. Hot is not a verb. Hot is an adjective. If you need a verb or a noun, we have the word “heat”. It’s not that much harder to spell. There’s no excuse for the way you’re manhandling the word “hot”. Hot is a perfectly good word that has done its job well over the years. Why are you making it do heat’s job too?
Please, let’s put a stop to this.
(Reviews of both books mentioned are coming soon.)
I have always been of the opinion that a good book can be one that makes you think or one that entertains, and some of the best books manage to do both. The Well of Lost Plots is one of those books that does both.
From one angle, I regret reading this book, but only in that I hadn’t read the preceeding two books in the series. There are parts of the plot and backstory of the main character Thursday Next that I still don’t think I entirely understand. It wasn’t enough to make me abandon the book, but I think this may be the kind of series where it really is better to read them all in order.
Having said all that, The Well of Lost Plots can stand alone as a story. Thursday Next has decided to spend a year in the Book World (the place where all stories are created), as a character in one of the unpublished books that is waiting to be written in the Well of Lost Plots.
People around Thursday keep getting murdered, and eventually she thinks it may be connected to the new book upgrade, UltraBook, that is being pushed through. The characters are quirky and well-drawn. The story moves at a good pace and kept me engaged throughout. But my favorite part was the end, which I don’t want to spoil for you.
Let’s just say that at the end of the book I kept looking at the publishing page and saying to myself, “Really? This was written back in 2003?” Jasper Fforde makes some very interesting points about the future of the publishing world, and some of the new technologies in reading that didn’t even exist yet when this book was written. Fforde is clearly thinking and writing on the cutting edge of literature.
This is a book written by someone who loves books and loves to read, and it is clearly written for people who love books and reading. If you are in that category, you will probably enjoy The Well of Lost Plots, but you might want to read the first two books in the series first. I’m going to be hunting them down and reading them soon myself.
This one will probably stay in my permanent collection.
Prometheus, responding to the question of what humans can do to improve themselves in The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey
You know what really pisses me off? Attractive authors. Like, I got into writing because it is one of the only jobs that a hideous goblin like myself can do without having to put up signs warning that I may terrify small children.
And then there’s these assholes:
It’s not enough that these dick-wagons can write ten times better than I ever will, but then they have to go and be freaking adorable on top of that.