Friday Feature: Favorite Words I Read This Week

Photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash

My reading time this week was primarily taken up by Lucy Parker’s Headliners. I’ve enjoyed the entire London Celebrities series, and this one was no exception.

Lucy Parker’s writing has a light touch- you never feel like you’re struggling to get through the prose- but the minute the plot takes a turn, you realize she’s somehow tricked you into being DEEPLY invested in the characters and their emotional journey.

There were many examples of good writing I could have picked from this book, but I’m going to be honest and go with a fairly random sentence that stuck in my mind and kept making me laugh. It takes place while Sabrina, a TV presenter, is trying to deal with a misogynistic, overly-flirty guest on her program. Sabrina is a redhead, which becomes pertinent here:

“You have beautiful hair,” smarmed the man with basically the same hair, randomly in the middle of a discussion on app development.

Lucy Parker, Headliners, 2020.

The verb-subject pairing of “smarmed the man” is doing a lot of work here, both the invention of the verb “smarmed” (making his grossness more integral to his actions than if he’d “said smarmily”) and the universalizing – and simultaneously dismissing- gesture of calling him “the man.” The repetition of “beautiful hair”/”same hair” at the end of each clause drives home the inherent recursive narcissism of complimenting someone on a shared trait. And because the reader is caught up in the sound of that repetition, the adverb “randomly” is separated from the verb it’s meant to modify (“smarmed”), allowing the end of the sentence to arrive, in fact, rather randomly.

Also, it’s just really funny.


I’ll be back next week with a long post I’m excited about: the opening passage of Cat Sebastian’s A Duke in Disguise. I’ll talk about how the first three paragraphs of the book subvert various conventions around a male MC describing his female love interest, and set us up instead to meet two nuanced characters.

Buy links and CWs at the author’s website :

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