Friday, January 26, 2007


For similar reasons, I shied away from M. T. Anderson’s “Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation,” even though it won last year’s National Book Award for young people’s literature. Just because the author himself uses the term “astonishing” to describe his subject doesn’t automatically make the book astonishing; it could be merely stellar, sensational, breathtaking or un-put-downable. For somewhat different reasons, I avoided Kate Atkinson’s “One Good Turn,” because even though it was described as an “astonishing thriller” in an ad in The New Yorker, this assessment came from one Linda Grana of the Lafayette Bookstore in Lafayette, Calif. Linda Grana may be a critic of the first water, on the same level as Samuel Johnson and Dale Peck, but if the word “astonishing” does not appear as part of a review by a designated cognoscente in a mainstream publication, I do not buy the putatively astonishing product. I can’t be buying books just because somebody in a bookstore somewhere said they were astonishing. I’d go broke.

Joe Queenan, in his hilarious 21 Jan NYT essay, Astonish Me.

Generally regarded as such; supposed. See Synonyms at supposed.


[Middle English, from Old French putatif, from Late Latin puttvus, from Latin putre, to prune, think; see pau-2 in Indo-European roots.]


puta·tive·ly adv.


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