I'm reading Andy Rooney's latest collection, Out of My Mind. It's the large print version.
Hey, you kids! Enough with the snickering. I can still hear, you know!
So far I've looked up one word to verify the meaning: evanescent. Vanishing, or likely to vanish, like a vapor. Fleeting, I suppose.
I also learned, from context, that what I, and everyone I've ever known, call a "chef's hat" is a toque blanche. Even with my extremely limited knowledge of French, I kinda figured that "toque blanche" means, literally, "white hat." The first item in a Google search for "toque blanche" is for "Discount Chef Hats." The second item in the Google search informs me that a quality chef's hat has 100 pleats, traditionally said to represent the 100 ways a good chef knows how to prepare eggs.
When I read Anansi Boys last week I ran across only a smattering of words, with most of which I was semi-familiar, that I double-checked for nuance. To my surprise, despite his often pretentious personal style, the Anansi author writes with a reasonable vocabulary. Catering to his audience, perhaps.
lubricious: salacious (which means "lascivious," which means -- this is according to a dictionary -- "salacious") (Zounds! Circular reasoning! Shades of the episode, I, Mudd.)
Medianites: ancient people whom the "Children of Israel" were, under direct orders from GOD, to slaughter... except for "women who had not known men," whom they got to keep for their own pleasures or purposes. [Wait... I thought Hitler was the "bad guy." Has anyone ever written much about the "Zen of the Holocaust?"]
feckless: careless or irresponsible. Like The Feckless Captain Tylor.
susurrus: alternate form of susurration. A soft whispering or rustling sound. (This word was an instance of the "stylistic inconsistencies" I noted in the story. It's rolling along just fine, using all normal-type words, then suddenly, "a susurrus of wings" pops up. "Fluttering" or "rustling" would have done just as nicely. Still, it was only this once the vocabulary choice was truly jarring, so I'll let it slide. Besides, it reminded me of a word I don't think I've heard since taking vocabulary quizzes in junior high school.)
korma: a mild Indian curry dish, often made with yoghurt.
Banquo-at-the-Feast: admittedly, I'm weak on my Shakespeare. The reference, so I find, is to a scene in Macbeth, in which the ghost of recently murdered Banquo appears at the head of the table at a feast Macbeth arranges for the purpose of creating an alibi. (Shades of the episode, Dagger of the Mind.)
There was one other word I looked up in Rooney's book. Discursive. It means "covering a wide field of subjects. Rambling."
I'm guessing sjonsvenson and pastilla know what a toque blanche is. Probably 905, too.