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The Clan of the Flapdragon and Other Adventures in Etymology

By B.M.W. Schrapnel, PhD

by Richard McKee

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Book Review

There has never been another book quite like it. It almost defies description. It's part serious etymology, part semi-serious satire, and part, as mentioned on the book jacket, "dementia". The Clan of the Flapdragon is a fun book of thirty short essays. Each one concerns the history of some word or phrase, but quickly veers off in unexpected directions. Read Dr. Schrapnel carefully and you will be awed by his insight, revolted by his pomposity and floored by his wit, sometimes all in one sentence. These adventurous essays include lampoons on writing, language, and literature, and the collection is a delightful spoof of much in contemporary culture - especially areas of intellectual pretension. Readers will be entertained by anachronistic allusions, improbable parodies, whimsical etymologies, and tongue-in-cheek wordplay - examples of just some of the liberties Schrapnel takes with the language. The eccentric Dr. Schrapnel includes a variety of audience reactions in the form of bogus letters from fictional readers, confirming that language and literature are everyone's business. This book is best enjoyed like a box of chocolates: one or two a day. Okay, maybe a third, but save some for tomorrow.

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