Friday, September 23, 2005


Who uses it: Gastroenterologists
What it means: The waves of involuntary contractions that move food through the digestive tract. One byproduct of peristalsis is borborygmy, which is stomach rumbling... thanks to Dr. Rebekah Bartsch for that word, which is going into my active vocabulary immediately.
How you can use it: To describe an inexorable process that you just have to wait out.

I use the word "peristalsis" fairly often -- more in writing than in reading -- because I like the metaphor.

Work and travel are really starting to interfere with my reading time, not to mention my attention span. I'm halfway through three different books that I've had to put down, not because they're bad but because I can't give them the attention they deserve. Thank goodness I'll be home again next week.

What I Read This Week

Peter Spiegelman, Black Maps. John March, the black sheep of a family of investment bankers, investigates a case of blackmail against a lender who had had dealings with a BCCI-style bank more than 10 years earlier. It doesn't take March long to track down the blackmailer, but Spiegelman's strength is in his characters, and in his acute observations about the ways people behave around large sums of money. He also writes beautifully. This book won the Shamus Award for best first novel, and if the postal service has cooperated, the sequel, Death's Little Helpers, will be waiting for me when I get home.

Robert C. Gallagher, Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express. What do you say about a 23-year-old football hero who died? That he was brave; that he worked hard; that he loved his family and friends; that he was a gift to everyone who ever knew him. This slim biography of the first black Heisman trophy winner (Syracuse, class of 1962) is a fine introduction to a story that seems to have been forgotten, but I'd love to see someone take a broader view of Davis's achievements.

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