Cliches: Avoid Them Like the Plague by Nigel Fountain
|Cliches: Avoid Them Like the Plague by Nigel Fountain|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A book you can pick up and put down, laugh and blush over. It's informative and a very easy read. Recommended and possibly the best thing since sliced bread.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: September 2012|
|Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books|
Cliché is such an awful word with all its connotations of the trite, the hackneyed and the overused. It's a word you'd hate to have associated with your writing, even if you produce nothing more public than a shopping list but for the benefit of the discerning reader Nigel Fountain has compiled a list in alphabetical order of these dreaded phrases. I began reading, confident that I couldn't be caught out and then blushed when I realised that I'd just pointed out to someone that avoiding clichés wasn't rocket science. They agreed that it isn't brain surgery either.
I'll cut to the chase because at the end of the day it's the book you want to know about and we should all be singing from the same hymn here. By the way, do atheists sing from the same hymn sheet or is this one circle we can't square? With the best will in the world some clichés are going to get under your radar and all things being equal everyone can have a bad-hair day. And to be honest, at this moment in time, we really don't want to get into blamestorming. The bottom line is that we need a catalyst for positive change and we should draw a line under what's gone before.
I laughed. I cried and we've already mentioned the blushing, but perhaps best of all I learned quite a lot. Most of these phrases began life in a positive way but have then been subverted over a period of years or even decades into the monsters which sneak into our language. Avoiding someone like the plague was once a sensible admonition. 'Boots on the ground' was - and still is - a simple way of describing whether or not troops are out there fighting but we've now heard it used about attendance at a school reunion. The 'bottom line' refers to the final figure in a company's accounts, be it profit or loss but now for self-important executives the phrase is used to mean simply what they want to know.
Fountain wisely suggests that technical or scientific terms should be left to those who know how to use them correctly, citing words such as 'critical mass' and 'pushing the envelope'. I think there are quite a few other phrases which should be allowed to die a death (sorry) but I would like to thank the publishers for dropping a copy of the book into the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think you might also enjoy Strictly English: The correct way to write ... and why it matters by Simon Heffer.
You can read more book reviews or buy Cliches: Avoid Them Like the Plague by Nigel Fountain at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Cliches: Avoid Them Like the Plague by Nigel Fountain at Amazon.com.
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