Sunday, August 15, 2010

A funny malapropism from a Clive Cussler novel

I enjoy reading Clive Cussler's fiction. My youngest son has been a Cussler fan for quite a while, and I have picked up his books and read them when I've found them lying around the house. After savoring the cinematic man-feast that is the movie Sahara, I decided to read the book.

Cussler has had a very successful life, and I respect him for all that he's accomplished. In addition, he tells a good story. However, you have to be willing to forgive his rough writing to enjoy the story.

No, not "rough" as in "raunchy." Cussler can't be bothered putting that stuff into his yarns. His books may be rated PG or PG-13, but only for violence. "Rough" as in "trying to ride a bicycle down a gravel road."

Sometimes his unorthodox word choices leave the reader scratching his head in confusion. Oh, that's another thing: he keeps using "bemused" when he should say "amused." "Bemused" means "confused."

These are just little things. It's pointless for me to find fault with someone as rich, as famous, and as bestseller-y as Cussler. Besides, I'd love to go camping or sailing or something with him someday, and I don't want to get on his bad side.

Having said all that, I cannot resist quoting one of the unintentionally funniest lines I found in Sahara. In fact, this line was the whole purpose of this blog entry. Everything that I've written up to this point (and the next paragraph) are just to set it up. Are you ready?

Okay, the setup: in Sahara, the good guys discover a solar-powered waste disposal facility in the remote desert reaches of Mali, and they decide to shut it down after using it to burn through the remaining hazmat inventory. Here's the hero's sidekick talking about it:

"After cutting off all incoming waste shipments by train, we've kept the solar reactor burning day and night."

The reader pauses.

The reader furrows his brow in confusion.

The reader blurts out: "WHAT?"

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