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by Dr. Mardy Grothe

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating


Oxymoronica Dr. Mardy Grothe
ISBN: 0060536993
HarperCollins, 2004

As a wee lad, I collected bottle caps. That’s right… bottle caps. I had trash bags full of them in my closet. My grandfather used to get them at the bar near his home and bring them to me. I would say I had about 10,000 bottle caps. They stank. And my mom threw them out.

Some people collect bottle caps; others collect comics; and still others collect dolls or baseball cards. Dr. Mardy Grothe collects words. Not just any words, mind you, but Oxymoronica.

Acting naturally
Military intelligence
Jumbo shrimp

These are all oxymorons, nouns that express a paradox. And while they form a basis for the genre, they are merely a scratch from the surface of Grothe’s Oxymoronica, a wealth of 1,400 mind-bending quotations that span subject matter from sex and love to politics, from humor to literature.

A psychologist, marriage counselor, and management consultant, with such diverse vocational interests it is no wonder that Dr. Grothe includes observations from a range of individuals that include both Lao-tzu (“To lead the people, walk behind them.”) and Dolly Parton (“You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.”).

Contending that paradox is the very foundation of the human condition, Dr. Grothe looks to the paradoxical for life’s wisdom. Here are a few examples from his book:

“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” ~ William Blake

“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove you don’t need it.” ~ Bob Hope

“It doesn’t matter whether you decide to marry or stay single; either way you’ll be sorry.” ~ Socrates

“War is much too serious a business to be entrusted to the military.” ~ Georges Clemenceau

“When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“Eschew obfuscation.” ~ William Safire

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it.” ~ Joseph Heller

Oxymoronica is not a book you’re going to read cover to cover, but as a reference it is sure to delight the wordsmith in you. It is Dr. Grothe’s second book in the words and language genre. His first is Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You. With these two books containing only a fraction of the 10,000 collected quotations that Grothe boasts, we can probably expect more from him in the future.

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