History Channel

History Channel

Veteran professor of English and drama at the Notre Dame of Maryland University, he boasts an impressive familiarity with all things lit that not only bleeds through the pages of his new novel, “The Blue Heron,” but inevitably pokes in and out of his everyday vernacular.

Which is why it might come as a surprise that, with such a broad frame of reference, Farrington’s most beloved and oft-used word is a common, four-letter expletive.

“Fuck,” he chuckles genially. “I spent three long years during the Korean War in the Marine Corps and learned to use it as an adjective, a verb, an adverb, a noun . . . pretty much every form possible.”

It is this...