Intimate Apparel

Karen Gordon, Author Crown Publishers $14.95 (134p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1222-7
More personal and quirky than her two previous language books, The Well-Tempered Sentence and The Transitive Vampire , this is organized in dictionary format, from Absinthe to Zipper, but its resemblance to a conventional lexicon ends there. Gordon aims to get beneath words, to explode our conventional associations with them and the taken-for-granted ways we use them. Her ``definitions'' interweave fey tales featuring Yolanta, a classy expatriate touring Europe; sassy Cinderella; a hapless hypochondriac; and two seamstresses, among others. It requires patience and determination to unravel the interconnections of these often obscure mini-fables. One finds clever puns, fanciful, erotic wordplay and outrageous wit aplenty, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Gordon ransacks fairy tales, movies and popular romances to show how words' associations filter into the culture; in so doing, she holds a mirror to the stock language of everyday conversations and the non sequiturs and reflexive cliches that mar much prose. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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