Sunday, April 27, 2008


Kill Your Bittersweet Muse

Following up on the Times list of book-review cliches (poignant, compelling, intriguing, eschew, craft, muse and lyrical), Mark Sanderson at the Telegraph suggests some no-go terms for British reviewers: "bitter-sweet, breathtaking, wonderful, impressive, moving, finesse and, the worst of all, readable."

Sanderson also links to Kill The Cliché, which allegedly tracks the use (and overuse) of terms in American newspapers. (And yes, allegedly is one of their top picks.)

But allegedly is the correct word here: The idea here is more impressive than the flawed execution. E.g. I wouldn't call "insurgent" a cliché so much as a simple reflection of what happens to be newsworthy this year. (And, according to John McCain, newsworthy for the next hundred years.) Yet the basic concept of a cliché tracker is a worthy one. Some J-school site needs to take up this idea and run with it.

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