Books

Words Fail Us

In Defence of Disfluency

Book cover featuring a typographic design in pink, red, blue and green

In an age of polished TED Talks and overconfident political oratory, success seems to depend upon charismatic public speaking. But what if hyper-fluency is not only unachievable but undesirable?

Jonty Claypole spent 15 years of his life in and out of extreme speech therapy. From sessions with child psychologists to lengthy stuttering boot camps and exposure therapies, he tried everything until finally being told the words he’d always feared: “We can’t cure your stutter.” Those words started him on a journey towards not only making peace with his stammer but learning to use it to his advantage.

Here Jonty argues that our obsession with fluency could be hindering, rather than helping, our creativity, authenticity and persuasiveness. Exploring other speech conditions, such as aphasia and Tourette’s, and telling the stories of the “creatively disfluent” – from Lewis Carroll to Kendrick Lamar – Jonty explains why it’s time for us to stop making sense, get tongue-tied and embrace the life-changing power of inarticulacy.

“Timely”

David Mitchell

“One of those rare books I hadn’t realised I’d been waiting for until I read it”

Owen Sheers

“Open-minded, thoughtful and wise… A liberating book”

Colm Toibin

Date published
Format
Hardback
Extent
224 pages
ISBN
9781788161718
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About the author

Photograph of Jonty Claypole

Jonty Claypole

Jonty Claypole is Director of BBC Arts, Chairman of the arts centre HOME in Manchester, and was listed in the Bookseller’s Top 100 Most Influential People.