Review: Rapid Fire – Remarkable Miscellany by John Maytham

Rapid FireCapeTalk radio station’s Rapid Fire feature will be familiar to many listeners in the Cape. During the segment, two people phone in with general knowledge questions and John Maytham, the host of the afternoon drive show, attempts to answer them on air. Independent of whether he knows the correct answer or not, the question deemed more interesting by the CapeTalk team present in the studio receives a prize. Rapid Fire: Remarkable Miscellany is a collection of the most fascinating questions asked on the programme over the years. Using what he refers to as his “magpie memory” and traversing the depths and widths of the internet, Maytham provides the answers to them all in an accessible, lively manner in this quirky book.

What crime would you have to commit to deserve the punishment poena cullei? Who links Manchester United, South Africa, sunburn, and stripping? How did spam mail get its name? Where would you be if you were on the Looney Tunes approach? How does happy hour affect insects? Which Table Mountain plant could be considered racists? How fat do you have to be to be bulletproof? What shape is wombat poo? Or why are manhole covers round? Divided into eighteen categories, ranging from “Life and death” to “Red herrings”, the questions and answers of Rapid Fire will enlighten and entertain you, and when shared with friends, they will enliven any dinner conversation.

Rapid Fire is a fun way to enrich one’s general knowledge. It is the perfect gift for anyone, independent of age or reading preference. Some of the questions might sound obvious, but the answers will astonish, amuse or embarrass you. In case you still believe that polar bears are white, you better read this book. Paging through the Rapid Fire miscellany, your feline or canine companions might be shocked to discover they are chinless, and understanding how challenging sexual intercourse in space is might put you off your dreams of visiting Mars, but knowing whose cooking recipes are lethal will definitely save your life. Rapid Fire is a delightfully informative read.

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