Consider the word “October” for a moment. Its root, okto, denotes the number eight: octagon, octopus, octave. So why is the tenth month of the year associated with the number eight? According to Inverness author Murray Suid’s book “Words of a Feather,” recently reprinted under a revived family label, language lagged behind the flow of history: October was the eighth month in the bygone Roman calendar.
Or have you ever wondered about the relationship between words like “adversary” and “advertisement”? Both share a root that means “turned against,” but employ it in opposite directions: you turn toward ads, but shouldn’t turn your back to an adversary. Or what about Mr. Suid’s favorite pair, “rectum” and “rectitude”? Both words derive from the same Latin word meaning “straight.”
These lessons in etymology are just a few examples from a collection of 150 “dual etymologies” that Mr. Suid explores with humor in his 2007 book. “Words of a Feather” was originally published by McGraw-Hill, but it went out of print, and recently Mr. Suid acquired the rights. It’s now the first title published by his family publishing company, Monday Morning Books, which was active from the early 1980s until around 2000.
The company’s resuscitation is a family affair: Mr. Suid’s wife, Roberta, serves as the “CEO emeritus” and their daughter, Annalisa McMorrow, helps edit. The company will publish eBooks only, printing on demand.
“Words of a Feather” was an ideal first undertaking for various reasons, Mr. Suid said. He always felt the book was poorly marketed and could have reached a larger audience. He also said that compiling research for it over 10 years ago helped rekindle his love of writing.
At the time, he was devoted to “breaking into the film business” as a screenwriter when a friend informed him that a notable publishing company was looking for a funny word book.
“I had notes and drafts on that book on four computers, and they were computers that I didn’t even know how to reboot or even had the power cord for!” he said. “‘Words of a Feather’ brought me back into books and thinking about projects that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. It put me back into researching.”
Eventually, one of his novels was adapted into the 2008 Irish film “Summer of the Flying Saucer,” but Mr. Suid—who has produced over 30 educational and a half-dozen novels—said he is now focused on writing a next book: an expansive look into the stories, history and poetry of coffee.
Sipping on a cup of java outside Inverness Park Market on a recent morning, his scribble-heavy notebook lay nearby.
“He has a lot of little notebooks,” Ms. McMorrow said. “We had one of the first computers on my block. He’s very into whatever the modern technology is and how it can help as a writer. You can find his notes on napkins and on the back of cat-food labels.”
Mr. Suid considers the advent of eBooks a “new day” in publishing. “Monday Morning Books had a good run and it was not painful compared to what’s happening to cabbies with Uber and other people who have been squashed by technological changes,” he said. “The gatekeepers are often wrong. Self-publishing is an invitation for you to listen to your own heart and not be turned down.”
To order “Words of a Feather” and other titles published by Monday Morning Books, visit Murray Suid’s page on Amazon: amzn.to/2yXdtyD.