The ceaseless importuning of her children final-
ly drove Mary Elizabeth over the brink; she
SEE DICK stuffed the entire brood into a canvas bag and
DEFENESTRATE JANE pitched it over the railing of the bridge.
When his mother accidentally threw away
Sheldon's slide rule, he flew into a paroxysm of
The following sentences appear in Word Smart II,
rage, hurling a chair through the living-room
published by the Princeton Review to help students
window and setting the kitchen on fire.
prepare for standardized exams. In December, af-
ter receiving complaints about the violent nature of We knocked over their snowman, and in
some of the sentences used to illustrate vocabulary reprisal they burned down our clubhouse.
words, the Princeton Review announced that it
would recall the book, which has been in use since In a flimsy effort to get Thomas off the hook,
1992. Vocabulary words are italicized. the defense lawyer propounded a preposterous
scenario in which a gun thrown by someone on
the street flew through the window, landed in
The cardinal rule at our school is simple: no
Thomas's hand, and accidentally fired six times
shooting at the teachers. If you have to shoot a
at Hannah as she scrambled frantically around
gun, shoot it at a student or an administrator.
the room while Thomas inadvertently shouted,
quot;I'm really going to kill you now, you insuffer-
Living in New York for ten yeats has made Sal-
able old curmudgeon.quot;
ly so callous that to reach her mailbox she steps
on the back of the homeless person who sleeps
in the lobby of her apartment building.
Amanda felt that she was complimenting Lizzie
when she said that Lizzie looked pretty good for
a fat woman, but Lizzie took the comment as
The month we spent together in an isolated
From an unpublished telephone interview with
cabin accorded me the opportunity to get better
V. S. N aipaul conducted on January 21 by Akash
acquainted with my abductor.
Kapur, a freelance journalist based in Oxford,
England. Naipaul's most recent book is Between
Billy demurred when I suggested that he run out
Father and Son: Family Letters.
into the middle of the railroad bridge and jump
into the chasm just as a freight train was about
to run into him.
Can you hear me?
I deplore the use of cattle prods to discipline un-
v. Yes, I can hear you. Can you
ruly kindergartners, and I intend to work to-
ward their elimination.
Yes. Were you able to look at the ques-
Marty took a hammer and began hitting tions?
Suzanne over the head with it; Suzanne asked NAIPAUL: Yes. Some of them we are going to
Marty to desist. skip.
KAPUR: Okay, that's fine. Just let me know-
Sam's pulling a gun and pointing it at my head
If a man says, quot;I am walking down
disquieted me, to say the least.
the street,quot; you will say, quot;Why do you say
you are walking down the street?quot; They have
The bloody ax in Bert's hand gave me the dis-
a quality of obviousness, you know?
tinct impression that he had been up to no
KAPUR: Okay, let me know which ones you
want to ignore.
Students are fickle; one day they love you, the NAIPAUL: Yes.
next day they attach a pipe bomb to the chassis KAPUR: Can we start with the first one?
of your car. NAIPAUL: No. I think we can ignore all these
early ones. Yes. Because they really shouldn't
The most ghastly crime ever recorded in these
be asked, the questions; the answers are all
parts was committed by One-Eye Sam, who
contained in what you've been reading. I
rounded up several dozen townspeople and
chopped them into tiny bits.
NAIPAUL: I mustn't repeat my books. There'd
quot;Let's set fire to the town hall,quot; Allie suggested
J~O124 HARPER'S MAGAZINE / APRIL 2000