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Testing for deadly words

By Tom Chatfield  

Inspired by my colleague Susha’s recent linking, I’ve been conducting a few investigations of my own into what the New York Times has labelled the “seven deadly words” of book reviewing—the ones that should be avoided at all costs. They are, in all their poisonous pusillanimousness: poignant, intriguing, compelling, craft, eschew, muse and lyrical. How often, I wondered, are such horrors perpetrated by responsible journalists? And how do Prospect, and the NYT, measure up?

Prospect has now existed for 145 issues, which makes our PICCEML index (as I’ve dubbed this new measurement; pronounced “piecemeal”) a simple calculation: the total number…

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