Jan 22, 2009

Like a sharp stick in the eye

I'm a big fan of Inside the Actor's Studio, hosted by James Lipton. I wish it were hosted by someone else, but Lipton is the creator of the show, so I endure him.

Because I love all behind-the-scenes TV specials and books, I excitedly put Lipton's book, Inside Inside, on my Amazon wish list before Christmas. I started reading it last week and thought I'd devour it and be able to pass it on to someone else in a few days' time, because I was hopeful that it would be so fascinating that it would be a quick read. Hmm.

I know from having watched the show for several seasons that Lipton is fairly prideful and a little self-involved, but I think he recognizes that in himself. The first sentence of the book is, "I made myself a promise that I would not begin this book with the first-person singular pronoun I ... and I've already broken that promise four times -- five if you count the pronoun myself ... An unpromising sign." So I can't say he didn't warn me at the beginning that it might come in a bit heavy on the self-congratulatory scale. But it really is quite a "Look at me! Look at me!" type of book, rather than an interesting history of the series.

So far I'm on page 68 and am having trouble getting motivated to pick it up again. I'm a very quick reader and have a fairly extensive vocabulary, but this man is OFF THE CHARTS with the obscure words. When I was complaining about how pretentious he is the other day, my friend Rylan asked me to make a list of some of the words I'd encountered and to send it to him.

I couldn't bring myself to re-read something that was so hard to digest the first time, but I went back and skimmed for some of the words. I just picked through the first chapter (which is 28 pages long but COULD have been edited down to about 7 and conveyed all the same messages) and came up with this list:

- authorical
- contretemps
- Feydeauesque
- roue'
- eleemosynary
- ascetic
- hypnagogic
- hypnopompic
- sui generis
- contradistinction
- sacrosanct
- dialectic
- otolaryngologist
- preternaturally
- physiognomical

Keep in mind, this is nowhere NEAR a list of all the obscure, polysyllabic words he used in Chapter 1 ... it's just a list of the ones that jumped out at me. There were another 30 or so that I think a lot of people might not know, but they aren't as abstruse as these. ("Abstruse." High five, James!)

Three or four of those words I have a vague understanding of and was able to place in the context of the book, but overall it's seriously affecting my enjoyment of the book. Life's too short to read a book that makes me feel like banging my head against a wall, so I might have to move on. That's a problem for someone who hates to leave anything unfinished, but if I can do it, I'll happily claim it a sign of personal growth.

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