Doing book reviews is not really my thing. Years ago I wrote some for Jeff Wright’s Cover magazine, and though it was a chance to tickle the keyboard, and probably gain a few brownie points with the folks I reviewed, it was not a turn around the dance floor I enjoyed. For one thing, how can you give a negative review to an artifact that took someone time and energy, and money, to produce? Any creation is a blow against the empire of entropy – the general tendency of American culture to crush us in wave after wave of non-nutritious cotton candy.
Well, I’m going to put on my dancing shoes, to maintain the metaphor, one more time and give a shout-out to a new collection of flash fictions, poems and other stuff by George Spencer. The title of this terrific collection, published by Steve Cannon’s Fly By Night Press, is Unpious Pilgrim. The layout and design was done by the poet, Kat Georges, and she did a wonderful job. The drawing on the cover is by the author, and it is reminiscent of the line drawing of Don Quixote that was on an old penguin edition of Cervantes’ masterpiece. I think you can buy this book directly from A Gathering of Tribes, or certainly from Amazon.
One of the ‘other stuff’ in this book is a Rabelaisian alphabet (another of my favorite authors), which I’d like to share:
First Primer: How Rabelais Learned His Alphabet
in Order to Better Understand the World
by George Spencer
A as in Ass : So many acres lost to a mealymouthed licker of asses.
B as in Bunghole : They talked of the bunghole of Saint Knowles.
C as in Cuckoldry : Cuckoldry naturally attendeth marriage.
D as in Dingdong : Dingdong, seeing Panurge without a codpiece, with his spectacles fastened to his cap, said to one of his comrades, Prithee, look, is there not a fine medal of a cuckold?
E as in Ears : I’m a direct descendant of Zopirus, who cut off his own
nose and ears so he could disguise himself from the enemy.
F as in Fly : . . . quince marmalade laced with Spanish fly.
G as in Gargantua : What would I not give to have Gargantua see us
while we are in this maggotty crambo-vein!
H as in Heretic : . . . and would have caused him to be burnt alive had
it not been for Morgant, who, for his proficiat and other small fees,
gave him nine tuns of beer.
I as in Inquisition : How can I govern others, who can’t even govern
myself? I drink no more than a sponge. When I drink, I think; and
when I think, I drink.
J as in Jollity : . . . endeavour to interpret that in a sublime sense which possibly you intended to have spoken in the jollity of your heart.
K as in Kissbreech : By my faith, said Picrochole, I will not then kiss
L as in Lewd : . . . he had three score and three tricks . . . for he was a
wicked lewd rogue, a cozener, drinker, roister, rover, and a very
dissolute and debauched fellow.
M as in Mirth : Delicious, stately, charming, full of mirth, ingenious,
lovely, miniard, proper, fair, magnetic, graceful, splendid, pleasant,
rare, obliging, sprightly, virtuous, young, solacious, kind, neat, quick,
feat, bright, compt, ripe, choice, dear, precious.
N as in Nun : A woman that is neither fair nor good, to what use serves
she? To make a nun of, said Gargantua.
O as in Odor : . . . the plague was due to a stinking, infectious odor
recently flowing up to them from the abysses below.
P as in Prick : . . . you old donkey prick—may the sores on your legs
turn you lame.
Q as in Quickly : Women in particular quickly revolt from him, and
turn away repulsed at once by the archaic form of the language and
by the outspokenness of the words.
R as in Receive : . . . the stomach receives and digests and starts it on its way.
S as in Swill-pot : But, said he, what doth that part of our army in the
meantime which overthrows that unworthy swill-pot Grangousier?
T as in Testicle : His purse was made of an elephant’s testicle.
U as in Uxorious : To have no wife is not to be uxorious, play the
coward, and be lazy about her, and not for her sake to distain the
lustre of that affection which man owes to God, or yet for her to leave
those offices and duties which he owes unto his country, unto his
friends and kindred, or for her to abandon and forsake his precious
studies, and other businesses of account, to wait still on her will, her
beck, and her buttocks.
V as in Virgin : Minerva, a most redoubtable and dreadful virgin, a
powerful and fulminating goddess, an enemy to cuckolds and
effeminate youngsters, to cuckold-makers and adulterers.
W as in Winepress : Picrochole . . . had sent Captain Tripet with a
great army to set upon the wood of Vede and Vaugaudry, and that
they had already plundered the whole country, not leaving cock nor
hen, even as far as to the winepress of Billard.
X as in Xenophon : Xenophon was much in the right of it when he
affirmed that hunting had yielded a great number of excellent
Y as in Yard : The opening of the codpiece was about two yards long.
Z as in Zanzibar : . . . near Zanzibar . . . at last landing in Utopia.