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"Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch"


On this installment of our show, better living through savvy verb deployment. Our guest is Constance Hale, the bestselling author of "Sin and Syntax" and other books on language, writing, and word choice. A veteran journalist and teacher, Hale has a new book out called "Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing." It's a work in four chapters, each as informative as it is entertaining, and it's that rare example of a "how to" book on English usage that's genuinely accessible from start to finish. The "Vex" chapter addresses confusing areas of syntax; the "Hex" part covers (and clarifies) various myths (and misunderstandings) about verbs; "Smash" looks at common bad habits in writing; and "Smooch" identifies prose that's "so good you'll want to kiss its creator." This is a book on writing well, then, that cites examples from Shakespeare, Hemingway, Susan Orlean, Junot Díaz, Gay Talese, and Garrison Keillor --- but also from pithy Twitter "tweets," advertising slogans, and Facebook status updates. It's also a work that is, as one critic for Kirkus Reviews has noted, "bubbling with energy and conviction."

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