The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium

I confess I have a weakness for 'factoid' books like The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium -- a collection of essays about "how everyday items were named for extraordinary people". This one has perhaps a bit more depth than the usual bathroom book -- Dodd gives deft biographical sketches of all of his subjects, beyond the simple circumstances of their language-enhancing exploits, and he also does his research, penetrating past oft-repeated hearsay to find the truth. Reverend Guppy, for example, was not actually a Reverend, but hated tying ties and so affected a collar of his own design that later biographers assumed was a clerical collar.

One nit, picked: Dodd's previous claim to fame was being the "as told to" of the Rolling Stones' autobiography and he name-drops Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at rather odd moments.

But I'll forgive Dodd any self-agrandizement for relating these two maxims from Jules Léotard's (the original "daring youing man on the flying trapeze") Mémoires (published at age 22 -- the quick celebrity autobiography has been around since the mid nineteenth century, it seems):

Never judge a man by his mustache.


Make sure you never catch typhoid fever if you have something else to do.

Words to live by, my friends.

FuzzyCo grade: B+