alyssa pelish

A catalogue of essays, reviews, and some of the rest

Month: October, 2016


I’ve got an essay up at Identity Theory, about my formative years playing the language game called Balderdash.

In the game of Balderdash (which is just Mattel’s rendering of the old parlor game called “Dictionary”) there is a single word printed on the front of each card. Something you will have never seen. Perhaps schenkfelder, or allocochick, or sialogogue. Words so obscure that no one at the table will have encountered them – not even my father, who, having done the Times crossword puzzle every day of the week, long before I entered the world, seemed to me a repository of lexical bits and bobs. But Balderdash words are the white elephants, the curios and forgotten imports that lurk in the vast storehouse of the English language.



The folks at Queen Mob’s Tea House asked me to write about … my bed. So I took a moment to explain what I call “the triclinium.”

I first encountered a description of the triclinium at an exhibition of the ruins of Pompeii. A bed in Roman times, the wall text informed me, was also used as a triclinium for eating, reading, writing, and even for receiving guests. It was one of the most important pieces of furniture in the household.


And now a picture of my bed is on the internets.