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Have You Ever Used One Of These Expressions? Novelist Takes Aim At Media Echo Chamber
August 27, 2013
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Author (and Twitter dictionary inventor) Teju Cole (Photo: AP)

Every now and then, a writer will take to Twitter and spend hours tweeting out a single project. Last year, Jennifer Egan, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit From The Goon Squad, serialized a new short story called "Black Box" using the New Yorker's fiction Twitter account. And last night, Teju Cole, the Nigerian-American author of the 2012 novel Open City, followed suit, with a dictionary of sorts. Here's his first entry:

Although he didn't offer any explanation until he'd finished, it appeared that Cole was commenting on the way certain stock phrases get recycled in the media's echo chamber, and pointing out, in his opinion, the unexamined assumptions that underlie them—all in the guise of dictionary definitions and usage notes. In a pair, he comments on clichéd phrases that often get used to make a case for war:

Some of his entries (he ended up tweeting out 70 of them) were about the ways that some writers refer to people in various sub-groups:

Others, however, were a little less serious:

That last one, in case you didn't get it, appears to be poking fun at people who claim they're vegetarians, yet still eat seafood.

At the end of his 11-hour Twitter spree, Cole offered this explanation:


Via Teju Cole's Twitter feed

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