Miskatonic University Press


quotes ross.thomas

From Protocol for a Kidnapping (1971) by Ross Thomas under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck, at the start of chapter four:

Amfred Killingsworth had been managing editor of the Chicago Post only six months in 1957 before Who’s Who got around to sending him a form letter that contained a request for a brief life history along with the usual hard sell pitch to buy the 1958 edition at a sizable discount.

Killingsworth ordered a dozen copies and then used four 8½” × 11” sheets, single-spaced, to tell all about himself and the high points of his life, beginning with the American Legion oratory prize of five dollars that he won in 1932 when he was eleven in Miss Nadine Cooper’s 6-A class at Horace Mann school in Omaha. I know because he gave me his own draft to boil down to three pages.

“Four pages is just a shade too long, don’t you think?” he asked in that deep butterscotch voice of his that made “please pass the salt” sound even better than the first line in Moby Dick.

“I don’t know,” I said, rolling a sheet of paper into my typewriter, “you’ve led a rather fulsome life.”

I’m not sure why I bothered to play my word games with Killingsworth because all he’d said was, “Yes,” nodded his big, square, blond head in thoughtful agreement, and added, “I guess that’s the right word for it.” Then he’d started to leave, but turned back to say, “By the way, if you can’t boil me down to three pages, Phil, three and a half will do just fine.”

From The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, 5.250 (“Good usage versus common usage”):

fulsome, adj. This word does not preferably mean “very full” but “too much, excessive to the point of being repulsive.” Traditionally, a “fulsome speech” is one that is so overpacked with thanks or hyperbole as to sound insincere. The word’s slipshod use arises most often in the cliché fulsome praise, which can suggest the opposite of what the writer probably intends.