Words Fail Us (Hardback)

In Defence of Disfluency

Jonty Claypole

A lifelong stutterer dismantles the cult of fluency and champions the creative powers of inarticulacy

'TIMELY' David Mitchell

'MOVING ... REMARKABLE' SUNDAY TIMES

'ONE OF THOSE RARE BOOKS I HADN'T REASLISED I'D BEEN WAITING FOR UNTIL I READ IT.' Owen Sheers

'OPEN-MINDED, THOUGHTFUL AND WISE... A LIBERATING BOOK' Colm Toibin

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 fifteen 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.

Publication date: 14/01/2021

£14.99

ISBN: 9781788161718

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Biography & Memoir, Science & Mathematics

Words Fail Us (Ebook)

In Defence of Disfluency

Jonty Claypole

A lifelong stutterer dismantles the cult of fluency and champions the creative powers of inarticulacy

'TIMELY' David Mitchell

'MOVING ... REMARKABLE' SUNDAY TIMES

'ONE OF THOSE RARE BOOKS I HADN'T REASLISED I'D BEEN WAITING FOR UNTIL I READ IT.' Owen Sheers

'OPEN-MINDED, THOUGHTFUL AND WISE... A LIBERATING BOOK' Colm Toibin

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 fifteen 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.

Publication date: 14/01/2021

£11.99

ISBN: 9781782835080

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B07JM47RZ8

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Biography & Memoir, Science & Mathematics

Words Fail Us (Paperback)

In Defence of Disfluency

Jonty Claypole

A lifelong stutterer dismantles the cult of fluency and champions the creative powers of inarticulacy

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 fifteen 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.

Publication date: 03/02/2022

£8.99

ISBN: 9781788161725

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Biography & Memoir, Science & Mathematics

Reviews for Words Fail Us

'A moving study of stuttering...remarkable'

Helen Davies Sunday Times

'A deep dive into disfluency ... timely, thoughtful, rich in fact and personal anecdote, and looks to a more enlightened, speech-diverse future.'

David Mitchell 

'Comprehensive, open-minded, thoughtful and wise ... a liberating book.'

Colm Toibin 

'One of those rare books ... I hadn't realised I'd been waiting for until I read it'

Owen Sheers 

'Humane, thought-provoking, and rich in experiential detail.'

 Guardian

'I would recommend [Words Fail Us] to any fluent person trying to understand the tribulations of disfluency, and to any disfluent person who feels that he or she is enduring them alone ... Kendrick Lamar, Lewis Carroll, Somerset Maugham and Henry James are just a few of the writers whose stammers Claypole believes enriched their work. In Words Fail Us he has given us another instance of this fine tradition.'

 The Times

'Claypole, who has a stutter, argues that pathological "disfluencies" should instead be understood and - the more radical claim - celebrated. Claypole thinks it is no coincidence that some of the greatest verbal artists - Henry James, Kendrick Lamar - have struggled with speech. The book doubles as a polemic against fluency: by unlearning our reflexive reverence for it, we can appreciate our disfluencies, and the "diversity and innovation they bring to human thought and language".'

 New Statesman

'Incredibly valuable, and a noteworthy addition to the bookshelves of any speech-language pathologist, graduate student, researcher, or human being who would like to broaden their perspective of the power of the full spectrum of language.'

 Journal of Fluency Disorders

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 2020.