Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Yesterday, I received a rejection message from a major publisher concerning a manuscript that a good friend and I jointly authored. The message included some favorable, positive remarks, followed by a description of the manuscript as “quirky.” Now, I’m quirky about that word “quirky,” since it was once used to describe a serious book I had published about Louisiana Women entitled THEIR ADVENTUROUS WILL. Well, the word does mean “peculiar” – but then, “peculiar” can mean “distinctive” – and “distinctive” can mean “distinguishing.” Therefore, I conclude that the manuscript is “distinguished.” There --is that reductive reasoning, or what?!

My co-author friend, who knows of my aversion to “quirky” told me about a very intelligent man who calls himself “Canon Quirk” and insists that this man is a prophet. So, again, using reductive reasoning, we’re in the company of prophets, right? I’m happy that the manuscript was read and actually well-received, so I can’t quack about the quirky remark. Perhaps I’d have felt more comfortable with the word “quark,” which has its derivation in a word that means to caw or croak. And since my favorite birds, the handsome crows, caw, why shouldn’t our manuscript quark?

According to “One Hundred Words Every Word Lover Should Know,” in scientific terms,” quark” is used to denote the fundamental unit that combines to make up subatomic particles called hadrons, and they have fractional electric charges. There’s a WOW word! It was used in FINNEGAN’S WAKE in the line: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” Now doesn’t that sound better than “Three quirks for Miss Murk?”

Three quarks for the novel that elicited an evaluation of “quirky.” Well, you say, enough with the quarking about quirking, and just yesterday you had no qualms about telling poets to burn all rejection messages from publishers. I’m saying to you today: Don’t question that advice; people often quibble about silly things, and I sometimes use quodlibetic language when I’m trying to quash my reactions to a word that doesn’t qualify as the most quintessential remark to make about a manuscript. In another quarter, a publisher says her editors are “queueing up” (her words, not mine) to read the manuscript, and I’m hoping she doesn’t say it’s quixotic. O.K., I’m quitting while I’m ahead on the “q’s” in this questionable essay. And don’t quote me as saying anything quirky. I’m drowning in the quicksand of “q.” Shall we move on to the letter “r”???!!!
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