In this marvelously original book, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan offers fascinating insights into why we’re all talking the talk—Duh; Bring it on!; Bling; Whatever!—and what this reveals about America today. Savan traces the paths that phrases like these travel from obscure slang to pop stardom, selling everything from cars (ads for VWs, Mitsubishis, and Mercurys all pitch them as “no-brainer”s) to wars (finding WMD in Iraq was to be a “slam dunk”). Real people create these catchy phrases, but once media, politics, and businesses broadcast them, they burst out of our mouths as celebrity words, newly glamorous and powerful. Witty, fun, and full of thought-provoking stories about the origins of popular expressions, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is for everyone who loves the mysteries of language.
“A sharp . . . analysis of the phenomenon Savan calls pop language. . . . Inspired.” –The New York Times"Savvy and entertaining. . . . The range of influences on pop talk is astonishing." –The Seattle Times“A super-smart explanation of modern pop vocabulary . . . studded with observational gems and conversational jams.” –The Miami Herald"Entertaining. . . . From a crisp etymology of the word cool to an articulate defense of the word like. . . . A highly readable story about rhetoric and American culture." –Time Out New York