Before you even think about reading this book you need to listen to this – it’s a clip of Richard E Grant reading it for the audio book. That way you’ll have his voice in your head when you do read it. Perfect. What better choice to educate you on the complexities of the word fuck than Withnail himself.
[My crappy internet won’t let me paste the soundcloud link, so head over to MeAndMyBigMouth and listen to the clip there.]
‘Fuck’ is actually a perfect word-nerd kind of a word. As this book details, it’s probably one of (or the) only word in the English language that can be used in every part of a sentence – as a verb, a noun, an adjective, a participle and tucked away in the middle of other words (abso-fucking-lutely). It also works as its own little sentence (Fuck!), and can change meaning depending on tone of voice. If you have to teach word-nerdery (and have an understanding headteacher) ‘fuck’ isn’t a bad choice for an example – kids like an excuse to swear and they’ll have to know their transitive verbs from their intransitive very clearly to be able to point out which fuck is which.
This book is full of that stuff – the etymology and uses through different languages and history. There are also stories of censorship, and of those who do their very best to ensure ‘fuck’ is a word that is heard (sometimes accidently). There are tales of the origins of popular phrases including, or as a replacement for, ‘fuck’ (poor Sweet Fanny Adams) and lists of songs and films that include ‘fuck’ in the title or snuck into lyrics. It’s both nerdily interesting, and filthy and hilarious.
I am continuing my love affair with The Friday Project’s production department – it has a gorgeous vintagey cover printed straight onto the hardback – which is pretty perfect for such a sweary book.
Oh, did you know it’s Christmas soon? No? Well it is. I’m absolutely sure you know someone who would love this.