By Arthur Plotnik
Viva Editions, $16.95, 330 pages
What to do when, like, you know, expressiveness is, um, totally not smooth? Declare a state of emergency and read The Elements of Expression by the ever knowledgeable and helpful, Arthur Plotnik. Plotnik waxes eloquently about the ability to wax eloquently no matter what the topic or situation (though his suggested wordage for “stimulating Mr. Popovici [at the truck-parts warehouse]” is, “Yo, Vito – you gonna send the #@! gears or what?” Circumstance is key, he posits.) A cross between a writing primer and speaking guide, this book will direct readers to clean out the cobwebs of language and confidently say what they mean.
“No one will dispute the need for verbal expression, because no one will sit still to listen.”
Utterly embarrassing in its exposé of modern linguistic pitfalls, The Elements of Expression explains, in a rollicking, droll way, just what expressiveness means and the ways in which the modern English speaker may go about achieving it, such as with rhythm and novel word formations. It even advocates the “appropriate” use of rough language. Useful for writers, editors, speakers, or simply anyone who uses English on a regular basis, Plotnik’s surprisingly plebian book will delight, instruct and, above all, smash the shackles of stunted self-expression.
Reviewed by Andrea Klein