Concord, Massachusetts

Two weeks of talks, readings, and discussions celebrating the written and the spoken word.

Roy Blount Jr.

Events: Opening Night — An Evening with Roy Blount Jr.

Book: Alphabet Juice

Visit Author's Website

Roy Blount Jr. is the author of twenty books, covering subjects from the Pittsburgh Steelers to Robert E. Lee, to trying to understand the South. He is a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” and is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Born in Indianapolis and raised in Decatur, Georgia, Blount now lives in western Massachusetts.

After forty years of making a living using words in every medium (except greeting cards), Blount still can’t get over his ABC’s. In Alphabet Juice, he celebrates the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies of letters and their combinations. Blount does not prescribe proper English. The franchise he claims is “over the counter” and concentrates more on questions such as these: Did you know that “mammal” and “matter” derive from baby talk? Have you noticed how “wince” makes you wince?

Three and a half centuries ago, Sir Thomas Blount produced Blount’s Glossographia, the first dictionary to explore derivations of English words. Roy Blount Jr.’s Glossographia takes that pursuit to other levels. It rejects the standard linguistic notion that the connection between words and their meanings is arbitrary. Even the word “arbitrary” is shown to be no more arbitrary, at its roots, than “go-to-guy” or “crackerjack.” From sources as venerable as the “OED” and as fresh as, and especially from Blount’s own wide-ranging experience, Alphabet Juice derives an organic take on language that is unlike, and more fun than, any other.