SIMON WINCHESTER is the New York Times best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman. His recent titles include Atlantic and The Men Who United the States. Winchester was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to journalism and literature. He lives in Massachusetts and New York City.
Word of the Week
Spatchcock: In this Thanksgiving week, when all America is obsessed with her ugliest and least tasty galliform, the turkey, it seems proper to memorialize a word that records one way of dealing such an avian affront - by splitting in half, spreading it wide and grilling it with its limbs akimbo. Spatchcock means more literally 'to sandwich'; but has lately won more currency as a way of making turkey - and indeed all fowl - more palatable than usual.
Cacoethes: A classic example of a so-called 'hard word' - otherwise an 'itch'. Not so much a scratchable physical itch, though - more an incurable passion - as with Juvenal, who famously declared his insanabile scribendi cacoethes - which some who think Juvenal's poetry tedious, translate not as his eternal yearning to write, but an urge merely to scribble. Like Capote on Kerouac's not writing but typing. Though both of these men had the itch. Or were cacoethic.