Monday, September 12, 2011

Wuffly

Perhaps my favorite y word from Nicholson Baker's delightful and adorable new novel House of Holes:

"Ah, old Chuzzlewit," Cardell said in a wuffly English accent.

Baker also uses the word whuffled:

"Mgonna come, mgonna come," he whuffled.

I asked him about these, via email, viz.,

EM: Did you know the meaning of the word wuffler or whuffle before turning in the manuscript?

NB: No, I just winged it. Wanged it?

EM: What can you tell me about the use of wuffly? Did Dickens or his era figure in somehow?

NB: I think I was going for the wuffly mustache effect. The Hollywood version of the British Empire subaltern. Could be the "h" should be in there.

EM: Could you say a little more about the wuffly mustache effect? Is everybody supposed to know what this is?

NB: Wuffly Rudyard Kiplingesque walrus mustache.

Lest you think that Baker does not attend closely enough to his y words, consider this portion of our exchange:

EM: On page 228, Dune sticks his pinky into Shandee's pussy. How did you choose pinky over the common pinkie?

NB: I've never gone for "pinkie"--too much of the Sunday afternoon lifting of the teacup, too much Hostess Twinkie. When the copyeditor corrected it I changed it back. Same with "hanky," as I remember.

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