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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Was Dreamin When I Wrote This Forgive Me If It Goes Astray

I did something today that I thought I’d never do — I used the “D” word. And I’m not talking about douche, douche bag, or douchiness. I wrote a press release for a recent sale and I referred to the book as a “debut.”  I hang my head in shame. I don’t know when “first novel” got supplanted by “debut novel,” but it sickens me. And it’s ubiquitous. There are no more first novels, only debuts. Debut this, debut that. Is it a debut?  Debut novelist so-and-so. Debut blah blah. And it’s not just debut. There are no more presentations, only power points. A simple price has become a price point. Back in the day. 24/7. And my most despised: game change.

Why does this make me crazy?

53 Responses

  1. If you’re crazy then there are a lot of us around. My particular dislike is “the amount of people” rather than “number of people”. Arghh!

  2. “Why does this make me crazy?”

    Because words mean things, and bullshit is bullshit no matter how much chocolate it’s been dipped in and how many sparkles it’s been sprinkled with.

    Because confusion of language comes from confusion of thought, both of which are or should be anathema to anyone with love and respect for the written word.

  3. Debut reminds me too much of debutante. Can you be one if you’re over 18?

    But I must say, what disturbs me even more this minute is today’s #1 search phrase at my place: “big dog fucjing girl in barn.”

    And no, that ain’t a typo.

  4. Benjamin, I have two words for you: Deb Futter.

  5. When I hear anyone say “price point” I immediately see a sign hanging around their neck, on a chain, yellow metal with black letters. It says, “I’m a pompous asshole.”

  6. Because writers are not performers, prose sits silent on the page, and little lambs eat don’t eat ivy?

    I hate when people say, hugs, and love and sweetie pie online.

  7. I hate when my husband says ‘don’t be a hater’. And I hate “debut novels”. What they really should say is “This is the first thing he/she has written that was even remotely publishable”. For me I hope a book blurb one day says “This is the first novel she has written that has an even small chance of actually selling a few copies to anyone other than overworked and slightly confused teacher/librarians”.
    Debut? Please.
    Oh. And. I. Also. Hate. This.

  8. Funny you should say this. At first the word ‘debut’ really ticked me off, making me think of a stiff dress on a stage and forgetting the first line of my Bach.

    But I guess I have softened or it has seeped through, I used it.

  9. I just can’t stop wondering how my 11 year old would pronounce that word.

    • By the way, all my kids run around, shouting, “You’re the F word!” to each other. When confronted by the angry mother who is me as to what word they are suggesting, each replies, “I don’t know. I only know it as the F word.” Now I hear them yelling back, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re the A word!” “So! You’re the D word!” I’m just waiting for, “Who cares? You’re the X word!”

  10. Yesterday, someone asked me to give her my email “addy.” Why do people shorten every single word? Did she really save that much time by saying “addy” instead of address? They have an equal number of syllables!

    I think we’re de-volving.

  11. Problems are now Problematic. Everything is “prior” now, even when it’s only “previous”. And I recently tried to re-read The Electric Acid Kool Aid Test and I cringed every time Tom Wolfe used the word “spade”, so I kind of hate myself for being so PC. I also hate it that “kind of” and “sort of” are ubiquitous qualifiers these days.

    Was it H. L. Menken who despised the word “lunch” instead of “luncheon”? So I guess there’s nothing new about being appalled by modern language.

    • Hard image to get out of my head: Tom Wolfe, ever the dandy in his button down collar and pristine suit, hanging out with a bunch of groovy hippies while trying to make sense of Neal Cassidy’s frayed synapse, manic brain. Forgive his choice of words; he was higher than a kite.

  12. LOL, ROFL and BTW, okay I’ll stop, because that’s something else.

    Hey boys and girls, I can’t believe you’re pissed off over word-changes. All it means is that you have lived long enough for expressions to change. Welcome to MY world ancients, deal.

    That, ‘getting hooked up’ meant fucking, instead of meeting with your friends, was a hard one for me. Even ‘hard one’, well we won’t go there.
    Shot your wad, used to mean you spent all your money now it means…I’m not going there either it’s too early. No it doesn’t mean it’s too early it means…awforgetaboutit. I like that but it doesn’t mean that either.

    • “Shot your wad” used to mean you had run out of cannonballs and all you had left to fire was the wadding that went in the cannon to keep the balls from rolling out. Once you had shot your wad, you either limbered up and hauled you cannon and caisson to safety, or you abandoned your cannon and caisson and battery horses and ran for your life, or you stayed with your battery and died trying to defend it with your ramrod.

      Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end.

  13. So now they should call first novelists Debutante Writers and they should have to put on ballgowns and tiaras and ten years later when they haven’t written anything else they have to stagger around screeching like Amanda Wingfield: When I was a young girl I was gay all the time!

  14. Maybe we dislike them so much because we use them “against our will,” that is, we don’t want to but feel somehow we have to. Except we don’t, really, and most of them will disappear anyway because, as others have mentioned, a lot of them don’t mean much, or they’ll soon be dated. Especially the abbreviations. Who has time to waste trying to keep up with the latest, or to figure out what someone means? Good writing is clear writing. Therefore good writers surely get irritated by confusing terms.

    • Clear writing may be good writing but you need readers with clear brains to appreciate it. And how many of them might there be, waiting for our crystalline prose? I wonder.

      • The right ones will get it. To hell with the rest of them. Only so much room on the lifeboat.

      • I made that sound as if I were one of the crystalline ones. Not for me to say. And speaking of sparkling window panes of meaning, I believed I was brilliant on acid, too. Not bloody likely. It did make Frankenstein Unbound seem coherent, and, um, profound.

  15. The most cringe-worthy verbal trend to me is the inexplicable tendency to add “ize” or “ate” to any word and think it yields a perfectly acceptable result. (i.e. “strategize” and “conversate”) That, and the phrase, “any way, shape, or form”. Drives me nuts. But I must defend the gals on “The Debutante Ball” blog. They’re having fun celebrating the publication of their first (excellent) books, and if I’m ever invited to their ball (no matter what they call it!) I’ll grab my sweatpants, slippers, and tiara, and join the party.

    • Yeah. Calling the Debs “creepy” might have been a bit harsh. Sorry.

      Still… these sites do contribute to the “dumbing down” of women writers. Having fun is great, but to embrace the sorority/clique thing diminishes everyone. The term “Women’s Fiction” is part of this demise, too. Fiction is fiction. Let me play with the guys on this one. I can’t see a male novelist wanting to join this club.

      • I get the whole deb thing but to me, call me old fashioned, debutants are privileged female children from wealthy families parading their new found maturity in a parent/pimping creepy kind of way.

        So debut novel means first novel. Okay fine. The Deb’s novels are excellent, congratulations to them; I mean really, seriously congratulations.
        But the whole debutant thing just seems so female demeaning. It just rubs me wrong. Maybe it’s a tongue-in-cheek southern thing. I’m a New Englander, (I know, that explains everything), I just don’t get it. Educate me.

  16. All the little lambies, penned up after being shorn, following the leader and loaded into the truck with only one place left to go.

  17. Because you love language. You are a poet, after all.

  18. I love it when publishers refer to my books as “product.”

  19. Meaningless and all over the business world: “It is what it is.”

    Years ago, my husband laughed at a colleague who told a boss, “We need to provide the client with some verbalization.” Uh, you mean, talk to him? Nowadays that wouldn’t even draw a laugh.

  20. pre-owned instead of used is my favorite bit of marketing bullshit.

  21. I live in the Land of Debutantes: the local paper dedicates an entire section of one Sunday’s edition to photos and bios of these young woman; their parties and antics are then carefully chronicled in the Society section for months until the start of the carnival balls where these women are again feted as either “queens” or “maids” of that carnival organization. And before Mardi Gras, the “former queens” of said organizations gather for grand luncheons and are, again, featured in the Society pages. If the literary world followed such a ritual, I’m guessing few authors would mind the “deb” connotation!

  22. I’m with ya Betsy, 100%

  23. It drives you crazy because it is an outrageous debut-taunt.

  24. Well, I don’t really like “debut” novel, either. If I ever see it written about mine, however, I’ll be grateful anyway.

    • Call my novel a debut, a first novel, hell you can say I lost my
      novel-virginity, actually my virginity losing was novel…shaking head…anyway, you can call it anything you want to.
      Question, if the first novel is the debut what’s the second novel if it’s not a sequel…oh I get it, it’s a second novel. ha, sometimes my brillance astounds me.

  25. “The optics aren’t good on that.” You mean — It doesn’t look good?

  26. Top peeve: “Win/win.”

  27. No. You are not crazy.

    I created a Kickstarter account for my first book.(not debut)

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