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суббота, 17 октября 2015 г.

Whodunit: launch of a new name

Not only does the key word in the headline imply detective genre but it also refers to its origin. Who is the author, who has written it

Robert Galbraith’s debut crime novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling” had a poor start. It was declined by publishers and after it was released only 1500 copies were sold. Not until Joan Rowling’s identity as the author was revealed did the book sales soar to thousands copies per day. Having read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” together with its sequel “The Silkworm” when Rowling triumphed as a crime writer, I will try and summarize my impressions regardless of the universal acclaim.


What grips attention at once is the protagonist, private eye Cormoran Strike. For me choosing a war veteran who lost his leg in the Afghan war for a detective seemed quite a bold move. For two reasons: first, he is not completely fit for the job, and what is more important, a detective with his own personal story is not a common thing in the genre. This seemingly inappropriate figure in a crime novel proves to be a true find! And in my view, it adds a lyric touch to conventional detective story narration.

We meet Strike at the moment of crisis when he has broken up with his long-term lover and has to sleep on a camp bed in his office. Being left penniless he agrees to investigate a supermodel supposed suicide. The case of famous Lula Landry forms the plotline of “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, while in “The Silkworm” Strike is hired by the wife of a notorious writer to locate her husband who disappeared without a trace.

Selecting celebrities for a victim’s role looks similar, yet the way the two mysteries unfold is a lot different. The first novel contains too many longueurs: interviews and questionings sound like an eternity. A meeting with a witness may be reported on up to thirty pages! Besides, the writer seems to be over fond of adjectives using them abundantly, which is not at all necessary in crime fiction. Obsessed with details, she sometimes spends a whole half page to describe how a minor character looked for a packet of cigarettes!

The second Strike book, however, makes a much more absorbing reading. As if the author had reconsidered her writing and corrected her errors. In “The Silkworm” we actually read two stories because there is a book in a book – a well-known literary device. And as Strike turns the pages of the missing man’s manuscript “Bombyx Mori” we feel a premonition of imminent disaster.

Special praise should be given to Rowling’s really apt epigraphs. In “The Cuckoo’s Calling” they introduce the five lengthy parts, prologue and epilogue, while in “The Silkworm” a carefully selected quote has been prefixed to each chapter. And the language is admirable. I daresay, some passages are among the best Rowling ever wrote (I hope the author will forgive my free treatment of her text)).


Meanwhile the writer has finished the third novel in the Cormoran Strike’s series. “Career in Evil” under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith (which is no secret anymore) is set to be released in a couple of days – on 20 October 2015. I can’t wait to open what is expected to be another enjoyable crime story!

Have you read anything lately? Enjoying or being bored with a book? Feel free to share your impressions!

PS. More on Rowling’s post-Harry Potter era:

15 комментариев:

  1. May be , I`ll make people stare but I have never read books about Harry Potter , moreover I am not fond of Harry Potter at all. But I became interested in reading Rowling`s novels for adults. As for detective genre, I`m predictable, I love reading Agatha Christie.
    As to the book I`m reding now, I want to tell about the novel I`ve chosen for extra reading, it is Jane Austen`s novel “Sense and Sensibility.I have already read forty chapters and I really enjoy reading this book. And I love particularly all the characters of this novel but Elinor is my favorite one so I would like to describe her nature and the important role she played in the life of her family.
    First of all, I would like to say that the author's attention is concentrated on the two main characters: Marianne Dashwood and Elinor Dashwood. These characters are opposite to each other, Marianne is romantic and sentimental, Elinor is judicious and sensible.
    Since I am describing Elinor, I would like to emphasize that her salient feature is discretion which helps her to solve family`s problems and to take with all the varieties of fortune.
    At the very beginning of the novel, we can see Elinor being prudent and wise when she encourage her mother to forbearance. Elinor has enough strength of understanding and coolness of judgement to make change her mother`s mind to stay at Norland Park. Then the judicious of Elinor helps her to make up mind to lovesickness she has because of Edward Ferras.
    But being reserved and sober-minded Elinor has enough compassion to her sister who can`t control her emotions. So it may be said without exaggeration that Elinor is a guardian angel of her family and especially her sister, Marianne. When Marianne can`t sustain a conversation in the company or keep feelings under control, Elinor remedies the situation.
    The palmary example which shows Elinor`s support to her sister is the extract where Marianne says “don`t think of my health. Elinor is well, you see. That must be enough for us both” .So we can see what important role Elinor plays in her sister`s life and on the whole in the life of her family.

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  2. I`ve read all the books about Harry Potter. But it was a real surprise for me to know that Joan Rowling is the author of detective stories. And as I`m quite interested in this genre, I`m going to read Rowling`s crime novels as soon as possible.
    For my extra reading, I`ve chosen a detective genre too. It`s "The Moonstone" written by Wilkie Collins.
    I have already read the first part of the book, where we were told about the loss of the Diamond. The narrator of this chapter is Gabriel Betteredge, the servant in the house where the story happens. So I want to characterize Mr. Betteredge, because he is not only the narrator of the story but one of the main characters.
    Mr. Betteredge is a wise old man he is also well-read, generous, kind and has a good sense of humour. The indirect means of characterization prevail in the chapter to describe him. The author allows Gabriel to describe himself and us to judge the house-stewart by his actions.
    One of the strange habits which we can notice at the beginning of the narration is that Mr. Betteredge is obsessed with the novel Robinson Crusoe. ‘...such a book as Robinson Crusoe never was written and never will be written again.’ I think that this peculiarity shows us that he really loves reading. And moreover it seems to me that Gabriel Betteredge tries this book because he compares himself, when he was alone among some problems, with Robinson Crusoe who was alone in the desert island.
    Another his feature is his condescending attitude to women. He considers them less perfect creatures than men as they love little compliments and know nothing about foreign politics. But at the same time, he loves and respects women who surround him. He always asks his daughter for advice and what`s more he has been working all his life for Lady Verinder.
    Gabriel Betteredge also is a pragmatic man. He always looks for benefits. But it doesn`t make him a selfish person, he just follows his mind and not his feelings in making decisions. For example, he married a woman who had kept a house for him not to pay her. ‘Selina, being a single woman, made me pay so much a week for her board and service. Selina, being my wife, couldn`t charge for her board and would have to give me her services for nothing. …Economy – with a dash of love.’ Another example of his pragmatism we can see when he chooses a husband for Miss Rachel. Despite the fact, that she and Franklin Black are interested in each other, he thinks that Miss Rachel should choose Mr. Godfrey as he has a good profession, an impeccable reputation and a lot of money.
    After the loss of the Diamond, Mr Betteredge becomes an assistant of detective, Sergeant Cuff. During the investigation an old man shows himself enough quick-minded for his ages and he even has a kind of detective-fever. The detective really appreciates his help as he knows a lot about everybody in the house. And in my opinion the words of Sergeant Cuff explains us why the author allows to watch these events through the eyes of the servant and express the attitude of the detective and the author to him: ‘…I felt that a person of a Mr.Betteredge`s character and position in the house – knowing the servants as he did, and having the honour of the family at heart – would be safer to take as an assistant than any other person who, I could lay my hand on.’
    To sum up, I want to say that Mr. Betteredge is quite interesting and a little weird complex character. He is not just a spectator of these events, but he takes part in them and interacts with other characters actively during the story. Thanks to all his peculiarities the narration was irrefragable and absorbing.

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  3. I really like reading detective genre and watching detective movies. Your post made me want to read Rowling`s novels for adults.
    As for me,I want to retell you one episode, when Vianne Rocher is talking about her mother. This episode is interesting for me, only because of this we can understand who her mother was.
    Her mother was a witch: at least, that’s was her mother called herself, falling so many times into the game of believing herself that at the end there was no telling fake from fact. Armande Voizin reminded Vianne of her in some ways; the bright, wicked eyes, the long hair which must had been glossy black in her youth, the- blend of wistfulness and cynicism. From her Vianne learned what shaped her. Most of all she gave Vianne her love of new places, the gypsy wanderlust which took them all over Europe and further; a year in Budapest, another in Prague, six months in Rome, four in Athens, then across the Alps to Monaco, along the coast, Cannes, Marseille, Barcelona… By her eighteenth year Vianne had lost count of the cities in which they had lived, the languages we had spoken. Jobs were as varied; waitressing, interpreting, car repair. Sometimes they escaped from the windows of cheap overnight hotels without paying the bill. They were deported countless times. Twice her mother was arrested, but released without charge. Their names changed as they moved, drifting from one regional variant to another; Yanne, Jeanne, Johanne, Giovanna, Anne, Anouchka. Like thieves they were perpetually on the run, converting the unwieldy ballast of life into francs, pounds, kroner, dollars, as they fled where the wind took them. The life was a fine adventure for those years. They had each other, her mother and she. She never felt the need for a father. Her friends were countless. Still they raced faster as the years wore on, staying a month, two at the most, then moving on like fugitives racing the sunset. It took Vianne some years to understand that it was death they fled.
    Her mother was forty. It was cancer. She'd known for some time, she told Vianne. There was to be no hospital. There were months, years left in her and she wanted to see America: New York, the Florida Everglades. They were moving almost every day.
    When my daughter was born nine months later Vianne called her after both of them. It seemed appropriate. Her father never knew her. It doesn't matter. Too much ballast slows them down.

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  4. I started to read a book about Harry Potter when I was at school, because all my friends told me that it was so exciting and absorbing book. But I found it terribly boring, so I didn't read ohter Rowling`s books.
    Now I am reading a science fiction novel by Stephen King. Firestarter was the first Stephen King’s book I’ve ever read (in Russian language) so it will always have a sentimental value for me. But I don’t think that only nostalgia was the reason to choose this book. I suppose it’s a pretty good story. So as I read Firestarter about 6 years ago, I decided to refresh my warm memories of this book and immerse in this fantastic story again.
    I’ve already read 197 pages. This story is about an eight years old girl – Charlie McGee, who “has more than her eyes and her mouth”, she has a frightening pyrokinetic ability, which she inherited form her parents. The government organization – the Shop (the U. S. Intelligence Service) – discovered that she’s having a power thus they started to persue her and her farther.
    I do enjoy reading this book, it is about love, persistence, devotion, amazing abilities, dreads and violence. The author touches upon different important problems: moral, psychological and social.
    Stephen King pays a great role to moral problems. He was able to convey psychological condition of a little girl who had to collapse her ideas about good and evil, right and wrong decisions. She was just a little girl who has frightening pyrokinetic ability, she was so scared and felt like a rabbit in a snare. She had to set of fire these bad agents from the Shop who were going to kill her farther and to capture her. She knew that it was terrible thing, but she had to do it anyway. She had to broke her complex and make a very important decision which later changed her life, her ideas about good and evil.
    Besides the author is deeply concerned with a number relationship between usual citizens and representatives of government organization. The Shop is an evil in this novel. One of the main ideas in this book, which seems so invisible, this idea voiced by a farmer – Manders-Ivr Manders: “If I had to do over again, I’d do it just the same…Gosh-damn people coming on my land with guns… ”. He was deeply chocked and angry with this incident. These government agents came to his land without any warrant and tried to kill Andy and his little button who he invited to lunch. He can’t believe that is his country government agents could do everything they wanted. So he wasn’t afraid to resist them and to defend his wife and his guests.
    Later we saw how the Shop agents were threatened by the postman, Robert Everett , who didn’t want to give them the mail. He was scared, but he was trying to confront with the force of the government. He said that what he got there was the mail. The U.S. mail. Then agents answered that it was a matter of national security. But Everett didn’t give up, so they moved to threats. The Shop supposed that they could do everything: to kidnap, kill innocent etc. And unfortunately it’s true.
    Firestarter is an amazing book. During reading it you can’t believe that it’s a science fiction novel. This book is so realistic, vital, logical and psychologically powerful. Stephen King is trying to grab our attention not by using horrors and nightmares, he uses all his knowledge in psychology and create an unforgettable and realistic story. You do believe in pyrokinetic abilities and you are worried about the main characters and trying to put yourself in their place to understand how you could deal with all these terrible things. This novel is not easy to read but I do love the relationship between Charlie and her dad. I just wanted to protect them from all these bad guys from the Shop who chased them

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  5. Ольга Литус8 ноября 2015 г., 06:08

    I`ve read only the first book of Harry Potter, but I really thought about reading all the books in this series! Also, I`ve written down to my reading list some Rowling`s crime novels for adults.
    For my extra reading, I`ve chosen a detective genre too.It`s “Private London” by James Patterson.
    James Patterson is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade – the Alex Cross, Women`s Murder Club and Detective Michael Bennett novels – and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers (like Private).
    I wanted to read one of the series of the books written by this author for a long time and I chose this book. Right after an introduction, in the first part, a starting pointing take place and there an outstanding but terrible accident has happened. The story make a start for Hannah Shapiro, a young American student. Her nightmare began eight years ago in Los Angeles.

    Police conducted an investigation all the time since the abduction of Hannah. Unfortunately they did not have any evidence and clues. They did not have anything until John Morgan received a message from whoever who had taken Hannah Shapiro. Jack phoned Dan Carter, detective who dealt with this case, and Adrian, his assistant. Ten minutes after they were sitting back in the conference room. Jack used the hand-held gizmo to move the mouse over incoming mail and clicked on the new message. The subject line read Damaged Goods. Then he moved the cursor, with a sense of dread, and clicked to open the mail. It revealed a hyperlink. He clicked on the link and it led to a YouTube video. There was darkness for a number of seconds and mewing sounds in the background. A bright light came on, they sow Hannah on the video. She was dressed only in her underwear and some rope was hanging from her wrists. Make-up running around her tearstained reddened eyes. She sad to do what Hijackers want or they will hurt her. He played the clip back again and turned to Adrian Tuttle, their only remaining computer expert, asking to put it in their system. Jack and Dan had an idea to find out something that police have not picked up on and Jack went to the bar where accident has happened.

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  6. I was soooo not impressed with “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, took me a record time to finish it, I found it way too boring, but, to be fair, I'm not a fan of the genre) That book made me realise that I don't really enjoy "straight" detective without any romance or thriller or mystic stuff thrown into the mix)) It was like an endless succession of interrogations with some distractions in the form of protagonist's personal life and history. I will probably read the second book though, because Cormoran Strike IS an interesting personage) If you say "The Silkworm" is better, I'll take your word for it and give it a chance!))

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  7. I do not belong to HP fan club as well. I guess that’s because I’ve been raised on Le Petit Prince and Astrid Lindgren. The world Rowling created does not appeal to me. And in my view, HP stories are overloaded with details and descriptions.
    To Валерия Кадничанская: Would you explain why each generation of students contains at least one fan of Stephen King? Ok, he IS a master of suspense but there are authors in the genre who can tell a gripping story in a better language. Try Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” when you finish!
    To Наталья Пересыпкина: I hope you’re enjoying the book! Joanne Harris is at her best here. You may be interested in her “Blueeyedboy” (see the post here of the same name).
    To Ирина Алимская: Why do you call Mr. Betteredge’s obsession with “Robinson Crusoe” strange? Have you read the book? Do you know that Rousseau’s Emile made “Robinson Crusoe” his desk book? There’s wisdom in it.
    To Юля Титова: Jane Austen`s books have a distinct quality: they make a homey type of reading. Soothing and predictable in the best meaning of the word – nothing outrageous is likely to happen. I love to open one of her novels to shed stress. Read A LADY in this blog when you have a minute to spare.
    To Hellenka: You won't be disappointed! I was about to say "I'm sure", but I checked myself)) At least we treated “The Cuckoo’s Calling” in the same way!

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    1. I agree with you that King’s language is not perfect and sometimes it’s quite difficult for me to understand his thoughts. Nevertheless I do enjoy reading King’s books. They are so gripping and dissimilar and characters are so real, so close to us.
      Nowadays it’s quite difficult to find a person who had never heard about Stephen King. Why is he so popular? I don’t actually know, but I suppose for this there are several reasons. Firstly, I think that each his story is quite different from previous, and his books are so absorbing and exciting that it’s difficult to stop reading it. Secondly, he works in different genres and everyone can find among his books one (or more) that will appeal to him. Thirdly, he is constantly writing new works (for commercial reasons of course, but these books are pretty good) and when I come to a bookshop I can find his new book in beautiful cover and I do want to buy it. Besides it’s quite easy to find King’s books in our shops. So I suppose these are the main reasons of his popularity.
      As for Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” I read it last autumn (in Russian language) and I find it unputdownable. I really can’t stop reading it. This book perfectly the mood of summer, during reading it you plunge down Douglas' world and you spend summer with him, you discover new thighs, interesting thoughts. Bradbury so vividly describe every moment of this summer, so I believe it’s a pretty good book to read, especially in cold autumn evenings.
      I do enjoy Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine”, so now I'm thinking about reading another his book “Fahrenheit 451” for my extra reading.

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    2. Great choice!
      I’m impressed by your analytical approach to King’s popularity. Well, he is not among my favorites. But I’m really glad you enjoyed “Dandelion Wine”. I agree, it’s quite readable in Russian, yet in English it is much more delightful! Take my word for it?

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    3. I am a huge HP fan! I am kind of surprised to hear that you are not :( As we, HP fans, put it, "If you don't like Harry Potter, you have not read Harry Potter". Anyway, tastes differ.
      I have been raised on HP movies, not the books. I didn't read much when a child (#wastedtime). Although my grandma read a lot to me. Mostly, it was the books by Soviet authors (I remember most distinctly "Как закалялась сталь", "Таежный тyпик", "Жил-был Пышта", "Два капитана". The latter is on my top three list )
      So, I read the HP series for the first time (and instantly fell head over heels in love with it) when I was nineteen. I am going to be 26 this summer and I've recently finished reading the series again but this time in the original. I love it even more now! I can't agree that "HP stories are overloaded with details and descriptions". For me they are simply perfect! They make me laugh and even cry... they make me happy.
      I am not familiar with Rowling as a crime writer. I think I am not ready for that yet. Maybe later...
      As for modern detective stories, I had thought that I didn't like them until my friend gave me "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo. I rather liked it to my own surprise (I had no idea who the serial killer was until it was unmasked).
      I am going to read more books by this author and hope not to be disappointed.

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    4. Thanks for sharing! I know the pleasure of rereading something dear to your heart. Should I say “used to know”? With age you learn to value Time. You try to keep on good terms with him, you know, not to quarrel with him))
      As for HP… I’ve been raised on other books. Which? Read Books from Childhood in this blog. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Честно говоря, после прочтения «The Casual Vacancy», к чтению «The Silkworm» я приступала с некой осторожностью (о впечатлениях от «Случайной Вакансии» я поделюсь в другом посте). К счастью, должна я сказать, в «Шелкопряде» не наблюдается столько вольностей в плане изложения мысли, нежели в другом её романе. Данный детективный роман поглотил моё внимание не сразу, но довольно быстро, что было хорошо, учитывая то, что я писала по этой книге курсовую работу (чем раньше прочту, тем быстрее напишу). Занимательным оказался не только язык изложения. Вообще, Джоан Роулинг всегда умела описывать события так, что и читателю передавались эмоции персонажей книги (чего только стоит жуткий кашель Элизабет Тассел). Но тот самый элемент, открывающий читателю дверцу в личную жизнь сыщика, и отличает данный детективный роман от многих подобных произведений. Я с Вами соглашусь, что сам Корморан Страйк довольно-таки не типичен для своей профессии, но, тем не менее, справляется он с ней не хуже своих коллег. Также () будучи чуть меньше чем на середине книги, я осознала, что «Шелкопряд» является второй книгой из серии, что слегка меня расстроило, т.к. теперь может быть не так интересно читать «Зов Кукушки». Однако данный факт всё же не убавил моего желания узнать про то самое преступление, которое помогло Страйку прославиться. Обращаясь к концу книги, я должна признаться, что так и не догадалась, кто совершил преступление, пока детектив не открыл все карты. Но больше всего мне понравилось то, что последние страницы действительно держали в напряжении, рождая во мне одновременно нежелание заканчивать книгу и огромный интерес узнать, кто же всё-таки преступник. Особое внимание хотелось бы уделить и цитатам к каждой главе. Мне показалось это своего рода традицией в данной книге, потому что, перелистывая страничку в ожидании новой главы, я точно знала, что в начале меня ждёт новая цитата, вот одна из наиболее запомнившихся: «И ничего мучительнее нет, чем собственные злые мысли». Стоит эта книга прочтения или нет – решать каждому, но мой ответ будет однозначно положительным.

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    1. "The Silkworm" очень забирает! Ни в какое сравнение с первым из серии о Страйке, ну, я выразила свое мнение выше. А вы знаете, что вышел уже третий роман с детективом-афганцем? Я его сейчас читаю!!! Больше ничего пока не скажу))

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  9. I fell in love with crime fiction after reading «Ten Little Niggers» by Agatha Christie and it was you, Irina Aleksandrovna, who advised me to still my hunger for detectives by reading the first novel in the Cormoran Strike series.

    So, let's be fair - it doesn't even come close to Agatha Christie's masterpiece. A little facile must be given that it was practically her whodunit debut. What made me proud of myself was predicting the murderer before he/she was revealed by the author (a nightmare for a crime writer, isn't it?)

    First of all, I would like to express my doubts if revealing the identity of the author was an accidental leak, it was probably done on purpose to increase sales. I think it is a little bit unfair, I mean this "sales explosion" after revealing the true name of the author.

    All in all, I guess it is a possible task for an experienced and voracious reader to predict that the true author is at least a woman (no sexism here, just judging by over-descriptive manner and paying too much attention to things of no importance, which are typical for women authors)

    Well, some readers would find this book boring and overextended, but as for me it was an absorbing reading still. The most difficult part of the story is its long beginning with unnecessary descriptions, but once you finish it, things get more interesting.

    What I liked about the book is the main character, a private investigator Cormoran Strike, who has nothing in common with Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Auguste Dupin. Cormoran is in urgent need of money and he practically struggles to survive, investigating is his only bread and butter, that's why he accepted to reopen such a thoroughly investigated case of supermodel's suicide.

    Besides, I would recommend to read the book for the sake of enriching vocabulary (especially if you are interested in adjectives) and developing imagination, to be honest some sentences drove me crazy and I would reread the whole book only to enjoy them once more time. Do you remember the episode when Cormoran saw Charlotte for the first time and compared her to the thin layer of the first untouched snow?

    «He wanted his footsteps to be the first to make deep, dark holes in that tantalizingly smooth surface: he wanted to disturb and disrupt it»
    Mmm, sounds brilliant, doesn't it?

    All in all, it seemed to me that Mrs. Rowling in the long run broke the rule and used magic outside Hogwarts (I think there was some magic involved, or how you will explain so unexpected success of the book?).

    Anyhow, congratulations on making an outstanding and fascinating crime fiction debut, Harry Potter's mother!

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    1. It does, if you do not go into the meaning. I mean that phrase you love.
      If you enjoyed “The Cuckoo's Calling”, you will be swept away by the sequel – a much more gripping reading. You get to know Strike and Robin who become closer to the reader as if they were of flesh and blood. I wonder if you find those stories predictable! Last but not least is Galbraith as a means of “enriching vocabulary”. I would agree if this involves other writers at a time, not to get a somewhat lopsided word picture. With each good-quality book we become wiser, and eloquent too!

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