Solar Plexus Watch

"He drove a fist into her solar plexus and knocked the air out of her, shut her up." - Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

"I dropped back down, my breath gone; then his steel toe kissed my solar plexus." - Step on a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

"Gabriel struck him again, this time in the solar plexus." - The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva

"Bourne grabbed the policeman’s pistol and drove another fist into the man’s solar plexus." - The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader

Over at Bookgasm, someone noticed that characters are constantly getting hit in the solar plexus. You can find lots more solar plexamples there.

Shakespeare's Coinages



accused, addiction, alligator, amazement, anchovies,
assassination, backing, bandit, bedroom, bump,
buzzers, courtship, critic, dauntless, dawn,
dickens, discontent, employer, engagements,
exposure, eyeball, glow, hint, immediacy,
leapfrog, manager, mimic, mountaineer, ode,
pageantry, pedant, questioning, reinforcement,
roadway, rumination, scuffles, shudders,
tardiness, transcendence, watchdog, wormhole,
besmirch, bet, blanket, cake, cater,
champion, compromise, cow, denote,
deracinate, dialogue, dislocate, divest, drug,
dwindle, elbow, enmesh, film, forward, gossip,
grovel, hobnob, humor, hurry, impedes, jet,
jig, label, lapse, lower, misquote, negotiate,
numb, pander, partner, petition, puke, rant,
reword, secure, submerge, swagger, torture,
unclog, aerial, auspicious, baseless, beached,
bloodstained, blushing, circumstantial,
consanguineous, deafening, disgraceful,
domineering, epileptic, equivocal, eventful,
fashionable, foregone, frugal, generous,
gloomy, gnarled, hush, inaudible, invulnerable,
jaded, juiced, lackluster, laughable, lonely,
lustrous, madcap, majestic, marketable,
monumental, nervy, noiseless, olympian,
premeditated, promethean, quarrelsome,
radiance, rancorous, reclusive, remorseless,
rival, sacrificial, santimonious, softhearted,
splitting, stealthy, traditional, tranquil,
unmitigated, unreal, varied, vaulting,
viewless, widowed, worthless, yelping,
importantly, instinctively, obsequiously,
threateningly, tightly, trippingly, unaware


Captain Haddock's Curses



"Pachyrhizus! Parasites! Patagonians! Pestilential Pachyderm! Phylloxera! Pickled herrings! Pirates! Pithecanthropic montebanks! Pithecanthropic pickpocket! Pithecanthropuses! Pockmarks! Politican! Poltroons! Polygraphs! Polynesian! Profiteers! Psychopath! Purple profiteering jellyfish! Pyrographers! Pyromaniac!"

Herge, the Belgian author of the Tintin comics, filled Captain Haddock's speech bubbles with a delectable assortment of odd curses. Here's a complete list.

Book Words

biblioclasm - occasion on which books were destroyed
bibliomane - someone with biliomania
bibliophily - love of books
cancel - "A cancel is any part of a book substituted for what was originally printed." McKerrow
colophon - a publisher's device or note at the end of a book, now mostly used to refer to the publisher's device or logo
corrigenda - errata
duodecimo (or twelvemo) - small size of paper, about that of an ordinary paperback
foliation - numbering of leaves (as opposed to pages)
folio - double the size of octavo
foxing - brown spots or staining on pages
frontispiece - illustration facing the title page
grangerize - inlay plates or illustrations into a book
incunable - a book published prior to 1600
quire - group of printed leaves, folded together and sewn as a group
recto - right side of a spread
verso - left side of a spread

Writers Who Died in Switzerland

Jean Anouilh
Jorge Luis Borges
Herman Hesse
Patricia Highsmith
James Joyce
Ephraim Kishon
Thomas Mann
Vladimir Nabokov
Erich Maria Remarque
Rainer Maria Rilke
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Georges Simenon
Edgar Snow

Famous Swiss Writers

The Kingdom of Redonda

Redonda is a tiny, uninhabited island in the Caribbean. Fantasy author M.P. Shiel claimed that his father, Matthew Dowdy Shiell, arranged for his first male child to be crowned King of Redonda. Queen Victoria supposedly allowed him to use the title of king so long as the kingdom did not secede. The kingship passed eventually to poet John Gawsworth, who sold it several times. When Javier Marias, the Spanish author, portrayed Gawsworth in a positive light in his novel All Souls, one reigning king, Jon Wynne-Tyson, abdicated and bestowed the kingship on Marias.

Marias has proven a delightful and opportunistic monarch. His small publishing outfit is called Reino de Redonda, and he has bestowed titles on the following personages:

Pedro Almodóvar (Duke of Trémula), António Lobo Antunes (Duke of Cocodrilos), John Ashbery (Duke of Convexo), Pierre Bourdieu (Duke of Desarraigo), William Boyd (Duke of Brazzaville), Michel Braudeau (Duke of Miranda), A.S. Byatt (Duchess of Morpho Eugenia), Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Duke of Tigres), Pietro Citati (Duke of Remonstranza), Francis Ford Coppola (Duke of Megalópolis), Agustín Díaz Yanes (Duke of Michelín), Roger Dobson (Duke of Bridaespuela), Frank Gehry (Duke of Nervión), Francis Haskell (Duke of Sommariva), Eduardo Mendoza (Duke of Isla Larga), Ian Michael (Duke of Bernal), Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Duke of Corso), Francisco Rico (Duke of Parezzo), Sir Peter Russell (Duke of Plazatoro), Fernando Savater (Duke of Caronte), W. G. Sebald (Duke of Vértigo), Luis Antonio de Villena (Duke of Malmundo), and Juan Villoro (Duke of Nochevieja).

The aforegoing dukes and duchesses judge an annual literary prize. Past winners (who receive money and a duchy) include: J.M. Coetzee (Duke of Deshonra), Alice Munro (Duchess of Ontario), and Ray Bradbury (Duke of Diente de Leon).

Writers and Other Places

Writers with intrinsic otherness:

J.G. Ballard - English, born in China

C.P. Cavafy - Egyptian, born in Alexandria, of Greek parents, spent formative years in England

Roald Dahl - British, born in Norway, spent time in North Africa during World War II

Marguerite Duras - French, born in French Indochina

Bessie Head - Botswanan, born of mixed race in apartheid South Africa

Derek Walcott - of mixed race, in Santa Lucia

Elspeth Huxley - English parents moved to British East Africa

Kazuo Ishiguro - moved to England from Japan as a child

Rudyard Kipling - born in India to English parents

Doris Lessing - English, born in Persia, grew up in Rhodesia

C.S. Lewis - grew up in Ireland

Andrei Makine - born in Siberia, but had a French grandmother

Beryl Markham - born in Kenya to British parents

Mervyn Peake – English, born in China

Jeff VanderMeer - grew up in Tahiti


Writers who moved to another country or traveled extensively as adults:


Isabel Allende - from Chile to California

Martin Amis - from England to the US to Uruguay

Sherwood Anderson - from the US to France

Margaret Atwood - wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in Germany, the US

Samuel Beckett - Ireland to France

Saul Bellow - began The Adventures of Augie March in Paris

Okot p’Bitek - from Uganda to England to Kenya

Jorge Luis Borges - from Argentina to Switzerland

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning - from England to Italy

A.S. Byatt - English, writes hither and thither

Lord Byron - England to Switzerland to Italy to Greece

Bruce Chatwin - nomadic

Amit Chaudhuri - Calcutta to Oxford

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Russian, went to Europe

Ivan Turgenev – Russian, went to Europe

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - England to Germany

Joseph Conrad - Poland to France to England, seeing much of the world in between

Peter Hoeg - Danish, traveled as a sailor, wife from Kenya

Samuel Delany - US to Greece

Isak Dinesen - Denmark to France to Kenya

John Dos Passos - US to France

Feodor Dostoevsky - Russia to Germany

Lawrence Durrell - born in India, moved to England, then Cyprus, Corfu, Alexandria, Rhodes, Yugoslavia, France

James Hamilton-Paterson
- English, moved to Indonesia

T.S. Eliot
- US to England, taking British citizenship

William Faulkner
- US to France

F. Scott Fitzgerald - US to France

Gustave Flaubert - France to Egypt

E.M. Forster - England to Egypt to India

Andre Gide - France to North Africa to Congo

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Germany to Italy

William Golding - England to Egypt

Graham Greene - nomadic

Robert Graves - England to France

Lafcadio Hearne - US to Japan

Ernest Hemingway - US to France to Spain to East Africa to Cuba

James Herriot - Scotland to Yorkshire

Henry James - US to France to England

Ha Jin - China to US

James Joyce - Ireland to France to Italy

Margaret Lawrence - Canada to Somalia

D.H. Lawrence - England to Australia to US

John Le Carre - England to Germany

Madeleine L’Engle - educated in Switzerland

Ursula K. Le Guin - studied in France, French husband

Federico Garcia Lorca - Spain to US

Cormac McCarthy - US to Mexico

Taha Hussein - Egypt to France

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Columbia to Cuba

Carole Maso - US to France

Herman Melville - nomadic

Jan Morris - nomadic

Vladimir Nabokov - Russia to England to Germany to US

V.S. Naipaul - Trinidad to England, nomadic

Gerard de Nerval - France to Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey

Marjorie Oludhe-Macgoye - England to Kenya to Tanzania to Kenya, married a Kenyan

Orhan Pamuk - first able to “see” Istanbul when he lived in New York

Arthur Rimbaud - France to England to Egypt to Cyprus to Yemen to Ethiopia

Vikram Seth - India to US

Prolific Writers

Isaac Asimov wrote or edited 515 books during his life. He wrote works classified in all but the 100s of the Dewey Decimal System.

Enid Blyton, the English children's writer (Famous Five, Secret Seven, Noddy), put out about 800 titles. She averaged 10,000 words a day during peak writing periods. Over one two-year stretch, she produced a book every five days (some of these, admittedly, were very short).

As well as being the first non-Muslim European to visit Mecca and the first European to see Lake Tanganyika, Sir Richard Francis Burton was a prolific author. He wrote 52 books, some of which, like the Tales of One Thousand Nights and a Night, run to multiple volumes, and at least two hundred articles and essays. These do not include the papers his wife destroyed after his death. Besides all this, Burton was perhaps the foremost linguist of his day, with a command of up to 28 languages, in some of which he could pass for a native speaker.

As of December, 2007, Joyce Carol Oates has produced 102 volumes of prose (including novels, essays, and short story collections), eight volumes of plays, and ten volumes of poetry. She has won the Pulitzer Prize three times and the National Book Award twice, and is often cited as a frontrunner for the Nobel.

Georges Simenon, of Inspector Maigret fame, wrote over 500 books, under 17 pseudonyms.

Sir Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) wrote extraordinary essays in a rich, layered, wrought prose unlike any other. His major works, "Religio Medici," on religion, "Pseudodoxia Epidemica," a Baconian scientific treatise, "Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial" (on funerary customs and the evanescence of mortal life), and "The Garden of Cyrus" (on the quincunx) are not long, but have had enormous impact. Writers such as Samuel Johnson, Thomas De Quincey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge reverenced him. Herman Melville, whose prose was deeply inspired by Browne, called him a "cracked archangel." Virginia Woolf said of him: "Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne, but those that do are the salt of the earth." W.G. Sebald, in his masterpiece, The Rings of Saturn, has a long section on Browne. Here is Sebald: "It is true that, because of the immense weight of the impediments he is carrying, Browne's writing can be held back by the force of gravitation, but when he does succeed in rising higher and higher through the circles of his spiralling prose, borne aloft like a glider on warm currents of air, even today the reader is overcome by a sense of levitation." Jorge Luis Borges said: "I am merely a word for [G.K.] Chesterton, for [Franz] Kafka, and Sir Thomas Browne - I love him." In E.M. Forster's first published work, the delightful story "The Celestial Omnibus," Browne is the driver of the omnibus that goes to heaven.