I had never heard of James Lipton’s dictionary of terms of venery, An Exaltation of Larks, or The Venereal Game before I found it wedged between some old etymological dictionaries I was browsing in my favorite book store, but when I picked it up I knew I was going to buy it almost immediately. Part dictionary, part etymology, and part linguistic game, An Exaltation explores those strange collective noncount nouns of English that anglophiles (like me) find so charming and weird. The first part of the book deals with some of the more common terms of venery, like “pride of lions,” or “skulk of foxes”:
But Lipton soon gives over to more esoteric terms, and then eventually plays with outright invention. The book’s illustrations recall Max Ernst’s surrealist graphic novel Une Semaine de Bonté; they also remind me of the recapitations of recent Biblioklept interviewee Click Mort. Anyway, a very cool book, likely a cult favorite, and lots and lots of fun.