Marjorie's Reviews > Mating

Mating by Norman Rush
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Mar 28, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: literature
Read in January, 1993

This book was really engrossing, at the same time it basically presented me with a vocabulary lesson unlike no other. Literally--I finally just started keeping a list of the words I didn't know, because cracking the dictionary every time got to be chore. It became an exercise in picking up meaning from context. And *still* it was an utterly fabulous read.

Imagine my amusement when right after revisiting Mating after many years due to putting together my Goodreads list, I came across it discussed for this very reason on the Paper Cuts blog at the New York Times:

http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/20...

"After praising “Mating” as “aggressively brilliant,” Updike took Rush to task for his “aggressive modernist designs on conventional reading habits,” epitomized by his ostentatiously arcane vocabulary. (Yes, lots of brilliance and lots of aggression here.)

“The action is simple but stately,” Updike wrote,

a curve of neediness, attraction, pursuit, capture, fulfillment, disillusion, and departure which is traced through close to 500 pages bristling with such recondite terms as “tonus,” “makhoa,” “tallywhackers,” “lustral,” “samoosa,” “suigenerism,” “cornucopious,” “lanugo,” “superfices,” “je m’en foutisme,” “cothurni,” “karosses,” “lolwapas,” “idioverse,” “noetic,” “ketosis,” “vitromania,” “inter pocula,” “rubiconic,” “uchronia,” “watchership,” “toriis,” “langur,” “ovaldavels” (from “rondavels”), “utlitariana,” “sternocleidomastoids,” “pygmalious,” “stimmung,” “credulism,” “megrim,” “dagga,” “bogobe,” “cryptomnesia,” “urticaria,” “elenchus,” “entelechies,” “geniusly,” “crescive,” “evanition,” and “bromeliad.”


Uh, Yeah!!

And even funnier, that blog referenced a blog by Rachel Donadio, in which she quotes Norman Rush from "Mating" regarding literary deal-breakers:

“There are certain quagmires to be avoided with people,” Norman Rush wrote in “Mating.” “You can find yourself liking someone who appears intellectually normal and then have him let drop that his favorite book of all time is ‘The Prophet.’” Touché, Mr. Rush, touché."

Um, I feel you Rachel, but another literary dealbreaker might just be not being able to read the book at all due to the arcane vocabulary! too funny...
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message 1: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Is it a coincidence that some of those words sound totally sexy? I have no idea what they mean, but I want someone to read them aloud to me. :-)


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