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The Words That Shaped Me
A journalist's brilliant, touching and hilarious journey through the dictionary and life
Aliza Davidovit

Free Press
September 2010/ ISBN 0615377726
Nonfiction/ Humor / Life /Social

Reviewed by Willie Elliott

In The Words That Shaped Me author and journalist Aliza Davidovit takes the reader through the dictionary, but she only uses the dictionary as a means of presenting all kinds of writing on all kinds of subjects. A reader looking to improve his vocabulary will be better served by another book, but it is doubtful the reader will find such a wide range of serious and humorous writing in such a book. That's not to say the reader won't learn several new words but that was not the author's purpose and should not be the reader's.

The book contains a lot of material that certainly could be labeled memoir but it has so much more. Much is made of her Jewish religion and the humorous and sad things that were caused by being a Jew. Then there are those writings that defy labeling—except to say humorous.

It seems that the author had a plan—a writing plan to get the writing finished: she would write the section of the book that went with a certain letter and this kept her on track. The fact that she decided to omit a whole letter suggests that she may have gotten behind in simply said she didn't like words that started with that letter.

Each letter leaves the reader with something to think about, wonder about, or laugh about. One wonders what the reader missed in that missing letter that never gotten written about.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011