on 10 April 2014
As the title says, this book is a collection, presumably amassed over a long period of time, of clichés and received ideas. As far as I'm concerned, these fall into three categories. Firstly, there are those cases where I can smile in a patronising way and say to myself, 'Yes, that's what many people do say and believe - unthinking fools that they are'. Next, there are the, to me, strange cases where the idea is one which I'd never heard of. (I'd never heard that growing pampas grass in your garden means that you're into wife-swapping, or that a single tear drop will sterilise a bucket of water.) Finally there are the uncomfortable cases where I say 'Ooops! Hang on! That's what I myself think!' Which means that the book isn't just entertaining and informative; sometimes it's challenging and thought-provoking as well.
My only disappointment is that the book seems to be available only in an ebook format. For it's precisely the kind of book which you'd like to have lying around, for example, in a guest bedroom.
(To declare an interest: Lucy Fisher and I belong to the same Internet forum, and she quotes me twice. On one occasion, I have to admit that I'm the victim of a received idea, and that what I say is very probably wrong. Well, we live and learn, don't we?)
on 16 August 2012
I judged this book by its cover. This was a mistake as it has little to do with dystopian architecture. Instead, it is an anthology of all the unthinking stuff that people (especially journalists) tend to come out with. Reflex writing, reflex talking. Kneejerk responses. Prevalent misconceptions. Persistent myths. The 'yoking' of certain adjectives with certain nouns, such as 'kneejerk' and 'response'. Actually I don't know if that is in the book because I have only got as far as G. But I note with approval that, as we all know, Gurus always have five Rolls-Royces.
Summary: it's true to say that the worst cliché going is the one that says all clichés have a grain of truth in them somewhere.
on 12 July 2016
Gustave Flaubert wrote the original Dictionary of Received Ideas and this is the updated version, an A-Z of the things people say and believe to be true because that’s what everyone says or they have read it on the internet. Lucy Fisher laces her comprehensive collection of the certitudes and myths of our age with her own idiosyncratic comments, drawings and digressions, plus some surprising revelations. Did you ever notice, for example, that Tintin the intrepid young reporter never files any copy? And did you know Dylan Thomas used a fried egg as a bookmark (really?). A hugely entertaining book that is as good as having an erudite friend you can always chat to about the absurdities of modern life.
on 6 August 2012
We have thesauruses for many subjects, but we have not so far had one for cliches. Yet it would be so useful to be able to look up a subject and find a list of cliches that could be applied to it. This book fills the gap, and is a most enjoyable read as well (although inevitably, with the subject being cliches, I do feel as though I have read a lot of it already!).