Monday, December 15, 2008

Rich Fare for Lean Times

A short review of The Idler's Glossary from The Boston Globe.

"The Idler's Glossary," by Joshua Glenn and Mark Kingwell, illustrated by Seth (Biblioasis, paperback, $12.95), could not be more timely. Both writers take pains to distinguish idling from laziness, sloth, or acedia - to use three words for not quite the same thing. According to Kingwell in the book's introduction, "Lingering is what the idler excels at." That point nailed down, Glenn takes over, defining and exploring 300 words, from "absentminded" to "working-class hero," each shedding light on the condition and varieties of idleness and, in general, helping to free it from the odium of being defined against work. I like this, in particular - "Intellectual: A man whose wife has a job" - but shall leave you with these words of reassurance on "Unemployment": "To be unemployed doesn't simply mean 'not engaged in gainful occupation'; etymologically, it means 'not being used.' Keep that in mind!"

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