The closet curser

A Brief History of Swearing

I have become a Closet Curser of the sub-category Car Closet Curser. Roadworks, detours, and the colour orange (never my favourite) thanks to the thousands of Christchurch road cones, all these can set me off. But cursing in books is not much of an issue for me.

But it is for some customers, like the gentleman who complained that he didn’t want to read “any more goddammed crappy books with foul language”. So the big question is how to steer yourself  away from books that pulsate with profanity?

First a little research on cursing in English is called for. Holy Sh*t (A Brief History of Cursing) is an excellent place to start, or you could move straight on to the e-book Wicked Words (A Treasury of Curses, Insults, Put-downs, and Other Formerly Unprintable Terms From Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present). Now you know what you are talking about – always a plus, let’s move onto fiction books that are obscenity laden.

The PanopticonAn esteemed novel that is loaded with profanity but is also a great read is The Panopticon. Billed as: “top-tier stuff: profane, inventive, funny and gob-smackingly offensive”. A prison setting for juvenile recidivists, it nails the Scots dialogue, made up almost exclusively of swear words, in this instance. Keep the clean-living away from this little beauty.

Same goes for Trainspotting, also Scots , here’s a cleaned up quote:

Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting on a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing (rude word) junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total (rude word) embarrassment tae the selfish, (rude word)-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life.

How Late it was how lateAnd in How Late it was How Late (also Scots – just saying), Sammy is having a really sh*t time – and then he goes blind. All three of these novels nail the dialogue, and the dialogue they are reproducing with honesty, is profanity laden. Of course this will not be to everyone’s taste, but please don’t self-censor the book. Just stop after the first page and read no further.

It would be great to hear of other good reads where bad language feels like a character in its own right – share please do. And finally, if reading bad language in books raises your blood pressure – guess what, swearing ultimately lowers it – and gives you greater tolerance to pain.