When Words Are a Rollercoaster Ride
As writers, words are our stock and trade. We play with them like cards—shuffling, dealing, discarding, picking up, pairing, and, finally, laying them down. We know the power of words to build up, tease, comfort, or destroy. But, kill?
I recently read a dystopian, speculative fiction novel that almost defies description. Goodreads calls Lexicon by Max Barry “A brilliant thriller that connects very modern questions of privacy, identity, and the rising obsession of data collection to centuries-old ideas about the power of language and coercion.” I would consider such a concept difficult to convey, especially with a changing timeline. In his own words, Barry explains how he wrestled with it:
“…I straightened out the timeline, moving scenes to where they made the most sense from a story point of view, rather than the dictates of an alternating chapter structure. That sounds neat and tidy, like you can click and drag a scene from one place to another and it will snap into the right place, but the reality is more like operating on someone who has their big toe growing out of their forehead. It’s messy, is what I’m saying. You create a lot of ragged edges. There may be some crying involved.”
Rave reviews testify to his persistence and genius in getting it perfect. Reading it was an emotional roller coaster that blew apart my neurotransmitters and left me gasping for air. And the ending? I never saw it coming. I rarely recommend a book, but thought I’d start with one that gives a whole new meaning to the power of words and takes it to the nth degree.
Thanks for walking through the corridor with me.