Charles Harrington Elster

CHARLIE'S NEW BOOK
Coming in December 2014

Charlie's Latest Book



HOW ACCIDENT-PRONE
ARE YOU?


Can you find all the accidents of style in the following sentence? (Hint: There are six.)

After the judges verdict, they were neither reticent to discuss the financial debacle at CoproCorp or loathe to accept responsibility for the havoc they'd wrought.

For the answer, click on The Accidents of Style under Books in the Selected Works sidebar on the right.

To read Charlie's collection of The Latest Outrageous Accidents of Style, click on Writings in the menu bar above.

CHARLIE'S
QUICK QUOTES


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."
Samuel Johnson

When Dorothy Parker was asked to give her two favorite words in the English language, she replied, "Check enclosed."

The Knickerbocker Rule for Writers: "Apply ass to chair."

"A man begins by fooling around with language, and at some point it becomes his life." Patrick Cavanaugh

"A writer has to have his books. He's not a writer otherwise."
Chuck Valverde, legendary San Diego bookseller and antiquarian

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."
Winston Churchill

"Writing is both tiresome and hard."
Robertson Davies

"So much detail goes unnoticed in the world." Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer

Obsolete: No longer used by the timid. Said of words.
Ambrose Bierce

Punctuation: A set of symbols that a writer uses to establish the rhythm of a piece, which an editor then uses to destroy it.
C. H. Elster

"Author not neurotic dork."
headline in The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 10, 2005, p. E12

Welcome, Word Lovers!

You have landed at the website of writer, radio commentator, and lexicomane Charles Harrington Elster, aka the Grandiloquent Gumshoe. (If you're wondering what a lexicomane is, it's a lover of dictionaries.)

Bring up the subject of language and I'll talk your ear off. Hand me a dictionary and I'm lost in its pages for a week. Ask me to find an obscure word and I won't sleep until I track it down. I am an unrepentant, irremediable word nerd and proud of it, for language is the most pleasant obsession I know.

The Grandiloquent Gumshoe scours the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Day and night, weekday and weekend, I am drawn to the luminescent screen of my computer, there to wrestle with strand upon strand of sticky syntax. If you want to find me, listen for a bunched clamor of keystrokes. Look for a forehead furrowed from straining over where to place a comma or delete a word. Look for eyes gone blank from focusing too long on the cobwebs quivering in the corner of the ceiling. Look for a man seduced by the sound of syllables and caught in the web of words.

If you are a fellow woolgatherer in the world of words, or simply an inquisitive visitor searching for verbal entertainment or enlightenment, I invite you explore my website and learn more about my work.

When I tell people I'm a writer and they ask what I write, my stock answer is, "I write about the English language for a general audience." In other words, I don't write textbooks and I don't write academic tomes. I write popular reference books for people who want to learn more words or learn more about words.

For many years I have also been a radio commentator, and for five and a half years I cohosted a weekly public radio talk show on language called A Way with Words.
I am also a voice talent, with more than 25 years experience narrating audio programs and books. If you'd like to listen to my voice demo, click on the link to my talent agent's website in "Quick Links" in the sidebar on the right side of this page.


Here is an audio excerpt from the introduction to my eleventh book, Word Workout, which St. Martin's Griffin will publish in December 2014. Macmillan Audio will release the audiobook then too.

The lexicomane with his first love, Webster's New International Dictionary, second edition, 1934.

At the top of this page, click on Biography to find out more about me. Click on Writings to learn more about my books and articles, and also to read my list of The Latest Outrageous Accidents of Style. Click on Events for information on my book signings, speaking events, and radio interviews. And click on Blog to take a word quiz and read my ravings and musings about language, writing, and the writer's life.

You're also welcome to share your thoughts or post a question about language on my Comments page. If you would like to contact me directly and privately, click on WRITE TO CHARLIE in the "Quick Links" sidebar to the right.

Good words to you!


# # #

Charlie at the 2011 TwainFest in Old Town San Diego, where he read Twain's 70th-birthday speech.

Entire contents of this website
Copyright 2003-2014 by Charles Harrington Elster.
All rights reserved.

Selected Works

Books
Articles
Charlie looks at how the relative pronoun who is taking over the traditional role of that and which.
Read Charlie's amiable rant on redundancy, which appeared in the August-September 2012 issue of Copyediting.
Timeless tips for aspiring vocabulary builders.
Charlie beats up on Merriam-Webster in the Boston Globe.
At a loss for words? Read one of Charlie's guest "On Language" columns for The New York Times Magazine.
Read Charlie's guest "On Language" piece about resistentialism.
Shopping for a new dictionary? Here's some sage advice.
Charlie's brave new words for a wireless world.
Read one of Charlie's articles in SPELL/Binder.
Read a profile of Charlie in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.
Letters
Charlie explains why he left the public radio show.