The linguist Dwight Bolinger once said, “Words are not things, but activities.”6 That point of view doesn’t really invalidate the dictionary’s emphasis on origins, but does denaturalize it, with consequences that are hard to foresee. The one thing we know is that the OED and other dictionaries will be very different kinds of things 40 years from now, and Simpson can take some of the credit for that change.
It is a rare gift to come across a book as tender, affecting and complete as “Pretending Is Lying.” Dominique Goblet, a Belgian painter and sculptor, began working on her graphic memoir in 1995, completing it 12 years later. Jean-Christophe Menu, her editor at the influential French comics press L’Association, which first published Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis,” writes in the introduction that the initial pages she showed him “were as impressive as they were pungent. . . . This book smells of oil, grease pencil, humid wood.”
I should have taken that injured bird somewhere safe and warm to die. Instead I took it to a cypress tree a few feet away and set it on a small limb deep in the greenery. Its feet worked spastically for purchase but finally caught hold. It was clinging to the branch when I left it to go back inside. By the time I checked 15 minutes later, it had tumbled into the soft ground cover under the cypress. One wing was spread out like a taxidermist’s display, those waxy red tips stretched as far apart as fingers in a reaching hand. I didn’t need to pick it up to know it was dead. I knew it was dead, but I hadn’t known it was dying.