Book Review: Superstitions, by Max Cryer

Available from 1 May in bookshops nationwide 

cv_superstitions_and_why_we_have_themMax Cryer has continued his wonderful exploration of the English language with this gem on superstitions. It is those strange little acts which we bring with us from childhood which are the basis for his research.

The book is alphabetically arranged which makes for easy reference. While I do not suggest reading from front to back in one sitting, it is a great coffee table book and was the starter for some interesting conversations.

Your life will be forever changed when you learn the ancient Romans believed eating 20 crickets at a sitting could cure asthma. I was not prepared to try this, but suspect my asthma would be the least of my problems at that time in history. Perhaps you could stuff cyclamen leaves up your nose to slow your baldness. Or warn your single daughters not to sit at the corner of the table or they will be forever single.

I  promoted this book to my students who were at that time preparing speeches for an assessment. I assured them that these riveting superstitions would be entertaining, show thorough research and be difficult for the marker to disprove.

I have enjoyed Max Cryer’s other forays into the English language, but worry that this latest offering will only appeal to an older audience, who actually know the superstitions. Like so much of the poetic and creative aspects of English, these will soon disappear from our spoken vocabulary. I am also a little concerned about what he may explore next? Euphemisms? Oxymorons?

I think I will retire to read a few more with a good glass of red.But first, I must prepare and eat roast pig lungs, to avoid drunkenness. If I do become drunk it may be necessary to roll me in manure, force me to drink olive oil, then wrap my private parts in cloth soaked in vinegar.

Go on. I know you are dying to know more. Your morning breaks will be forever changed as you recall the latest gem to your colleagues.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

by Max Cryer
Published by Exisle Publishing
ISBN 9781925335170

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