The Wax Conspiracy

Aperçus: The Aphorisms of Mignon McLaughlin

Witticisms stay true the longer they fester and mould around the world their forwardness uncovers. Eat enough to snack on, but not so much you binge on quips that pass the week. Putting them all into a collection, you have to serve yourself sensibly.

Aperçus is the kind of book you have to put down again and again in order to get something other than a bucket load of wit. Digestible bon mots and whatevers they may be, but the gorging leaves you with an emptiness, a churning through with nary a long thought. Like spending the day reading through a Twitter timeline, or constantly refreshing some site to get the latest snippet of attention deficit disorder.

When a stranger identifies you from a friend's description, it's just as well you didn't hear the description.

Mignon McLaughlin writes quite a lot on the state and insecurities of neurotics. A lot. At one point every other aphorism is one more remark about how a neurotic is, or isn't. They could fit their own chapter or two, but the spread as they are among the larger themes and topics paints a more rounded profile of the writer.

Sentence or two and you're onto the next one, revealing as much about McLaughlin as the time they were gathered and originally published. It's too much to read into these snippets as someone who distrusts and disdains of life, but the cynicism is peeking amid a sense of resignation and realisation.

It does not undo harm to acknowledge that we have done it; but it undoes us not to acknowledge it.

The introduction by Josh Michaels is a quick biography of McLaughlin shaping up the world and the time and the other writing accomplishments that pepper the active years of taking down the aphorisms. A bit of reverence, a bit of review, in total, if you didn't know who McLaughlin was before, you'd be much closer before you set into the meat of the collection.

Read straight through from morning, it's noon you'll find yourself ready to call it a day. It is indeed a book of rapier observations, cutting through the air to spear a truth or humorous remark. It is also a chomp of sugar cubes. Pace yourself if you're going to read it.

Don't be yourself—be someone a little nicer.

Back cover of Aperçus
Aperçus: The Aphorisms of Mignon McLaughlin from The Brabant Press

The publisher provided a review copy.

Ethan Switch

Reviewed on Monday, 22 September 2014

The Wax Conspiracy


Other reviews by Ethan Switch