Dear Quotation Investigator: I once read that the funniest book review ever written begins with the sentence: “This book fills a much-needed gap”. Does this book review actually exist?
QI: Remarkably, the phrase mentioned does appear in many book reviews and other evaluations. For years writers have been incongruously eager to praise the filling of a “much-needed gap”. The book reviewers probably intend to say: “This book is a much needed gap-filler.” Instead, books are not being praised they are being inadvertently condemned because a much-needed gap should certainly remain unfilled.
Typically, the humor is unintentional, but sometimes the writer is aware of the precise meaning of the expression.