Review – Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr 


Central to Melissa Mohr’s very interesting and entertaining book is the way offensive language has changed over time. In the Middle Ages, for example, sexual swearwords formed part of everyday conversation, while religious curses were on a par with the other nine Commandments. Fast forward to Victorian Britain, where certain four letter words were almost unutterable (at least among the middle classes who seem to get most of the attention in history books). Nowadays, racist and homophobic language, most of which has its roots in the 19th Century, is by far the biggest source of outrage, while ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ are tame as goldfish by comparison. 

The book begins at the very beginning of time, and suggests one possible early version of the Adam and Eve myth … I was told as a child that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, which explains why men have one more rib than women. But, as Mohr points out, men and women have the same number of ribs. And humans are one of very few mammals who do not have a bone in the penis. 

#justsaying, as they say. 

Review – The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer 

This is going to sound terrible considering the book subject matter (the story centres around a terrorist atrocity) but I finished The Scatter Here is Too Great feeling kind of uplifted by the freshness of the storytelling. 

There’s something shambolic about this debut novel, intentionally so perhaps, but also because you get the sense that the author is still finding his feet and will no doubt go on to create bigger and better things.