Words: mastodontic, adj.

SEAMLESSLY LIMPID is the new, elegant memoir of summertime meetings with Graham Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard, the novelist, widow of the francophile Francis Steegmuller and a mainstay of the marvellous New York Society Library. A word leaps out when she discusses Greene's small volume on British dramatists, "a fine illustrated edition of rational dimensions (we had no premontiion, then, of mastodontic coffee-table tomes)".

The adjective here means elephantine or mammoth, from mastodon, which is a strange formation, for masto- is from the Greek for breast (of any size). In fact, the extinct animal was named after nipple-like protuberances on its molars. Doubtless this will inspire a publisher to issue a breast-shaped coffee-table book.