How to Sound Like a Literary Genius

Are you wallowing in the back of the room at the 18th Annual Classic Book Club Convention because you aren’t familiar with any of the Big Important Books? Have you been wasting your time away reading genres instead of focusing on Real Literature? Are you feeling left out because you don’t have anything to contribute when your friends chatter on about the cleverness of Dickens, the clarity of Hemingway, or the captivating language of America’s beloved Fitzgerald?

Never to fear.

Once again, you can thank your lucky stars that you know and follow me, because I’m about to save your literary networking life with a few quick-liners that will make you sound like you’ve not only read the book, but you know exactly what you’re talking about.

When someone brings up one of the following Great Works, just take my cue.

  • Someone says Wuthering Heights, you say: “Man, that gypsy really went postal. For a minute I thought we were in for some Lester Ballard-type madness, knowhatI’msayin?” Plus you’ll get cool points for referencing another literary work.
  • Someone says The Great Gatsby, you say: “Nick was the quintessential unreliable narrator, wouldn’t you agree?” Whatever you do, don’t say: “I cried when Leonardo DiCaprio hit the pool.”
  • Someone says Ulysses, you say: “My favorite part was Lestrygonians.” Make sure you know how to pronounce “Lestrygonians.” If you can’t, don’t risk it. Go with something dummy-proof. Like “Sirens.”
  • Someone says The Old Man and the Sea, you say: “I think Hemingway used religion as a motif in that particular piece. What are your thoughts on the matter?” Don’t say: “Isn’t that the one with Ishmael and that big-ass whale?”
  • Someone says Moby Dick, you say: “Damn, that was a big-ass whale.”
  • Someone says Little Women, you say: “Some say it’s a romance, but I’m not sure I agree with that contention.” Don’t say: “How little do you think they were?”
  • Someone says Great Expectations, you say: “She shoulda brought that wedding dress to the dry cleaner. That’s all I’m sayin.”
  • Someone says The Grapes of Wrath, you say: “That dust was off the hook, am I right?”
  • Someone says a book that isn’t listed above, you: pretend like you have the stomach flu and excuse yourself to the bathroom.

Go forth in your wisdom, grasshoppers.

2 Replies to “How to Sound Like a Literary Genius”

  1. Somebody was trying to book-chat me up the other day and thought I would be impressed that he was reading “The Orphan Master’s Son” and I was letting him go on until he started snarking on “The Catcher the Rye” and the only thing I could think was “Damn good thing Erin’s not here to hear this!”

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