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Lost and found: Kerouac, Burroughs, Woolf and words

November 6, 2008 |  9:04 am

Jackkerouac_1106The Independent describes the true-life story behind the book "And the Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks," a pulp crime novel co-written, in 1944-45, by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. The two never sold the book, which was based on a murder committed by one of their friends (the victim, too, was a friend) -- and it was kept largely under wraps during the perpetrator's cleaned-up life. Now that he's passed on, the proto-Beat pulp collaboration is coming to bookstores.

This has been reported elsewhere, but it's too good to miss: The only known recording of Virginia Woolf has been made available on a new CD by the British Library. The BBC has posted the file of Woolf reading; to my ear she sounds a lot like Vanessa Redgrave with trilling Rs.

Sadly, the blog Obsolete Word of the Day is itself obsolete: It stopped adding daily words in August. But its archives live on (via). Some definitions are straightforward ("'roinish' - scabby, despicable") while others are colorful -- "'fittyland' - No, it is not the mansion where rapper 50 Cent lives. It is a plow horse. Specifically, of a pair attached to the plow, it is the near one that walks in the unplowed part while the other walks in the furrow." Other words from the archives: sweet-lips (an epicure), slubberdegullion (a slob), tyrotoxism (poisoning from cheese or another milk product) and marooning (days-long picnic).

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Jack Kerouac. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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