Vocab Friday: Afterburn

Not to be confused with heartburn, although I did feel a little of that during some of the racier parts of this book that my dad sent me. It’s a funny thing, reading a mobster-POW-sex thriller that has the word “penis” in just about every other paragraph, knowing your own father read it and thought of you.

I mean, we swap books all the time and I love it – not only is my nightside table always full, but I get a unique portrait of the man who raised me through his literary choices. It shifts over time, but he can always mow through a good Lincoln biography or fighter pilot tale. Lately though his interests have been leaning toward the introspective – stories that question the meaning of life or the value of life or the point of life or something.

Dad’s been gettin all metaphysical on my ass, which should make you giggle if you know my dad. So I was totally lulled into complacency by Thornton Wilder’s contemplative Pulitzer Prize winner when WHAM! Some guy is getting his balls shot off. Holy explicit sex scenes and multi-orgasmic women dad! Could you give me a little warning beforehand?

I know I probably sound like a prude, but it kinda catches you off guard when the last book Dad sent was about a priest questioning people’s inherent goodness and all the sudden I’m reading very explicit descriptions of mobsters drilling people’s faces off and women getting, er, shtupped into oblivion.

There was a rather good story line and a grander moral point in there somewhere, but as Peter Kurth notes over at Salon, “damned if you can tell what it is amid all those power dicks and severed limbs.” I felt kinda naughty reading it, like a 12 year old with a pilfered Playboy. And then I thought about my dad reading it, and it kinda made me want to stick my fingers in my ears and go “LA LA LA LA LA I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!”

So few nights ago I brought this up with him over Skype.

“Yeah, so I starting reading that book you sent.”

“Oh? Which one?”

“Um, the one by Colin Harrison, called Afterburn? It’s really, um, descriptive. The details are quite, ah, visceral.”

“Vis-ah what?”

“Dad, there’s a whole lotta explicit sex and violence! What the hell!?”

He cracked a big smile. “I know! Isn’t it GREAT! I couldn’t put it down! Maybe you could write something like that someday!”

*    *    *

And today’s word is:


Pronunciation: roo-jeer

Definition: To blush, from embarrassment, nervousness or naughty novels. As in,

Geezus Dad! Some parts of that book made me rougi jusqu’au blanc des yeux!” (blush to the whites of the eyes)


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