Today’s post is from Annie at Parr Library.

Lexicon: A Novel

Lexicon by Max Barry

This book has two story lines that eventually converge.  One involves Wil Parke, a carpenter, who is being kidnapped when the reader is first introduced to him.  The kidnappers are attempting to extract information from Wil’s brain via his eye.  Then both the kidnappers and Wil are running for their lives.  Wil has no idea what is going on.

The second story line introduces Emily Ruff, a street person in San Francisco who hustles passersby with a card game.  She is very persuasive and intuitive about her marks.  Emily is recruited into the Academy, a school which hones the persuasive behaviors and words of their students into incredibly powerful tools.  Emily is taught how to sort people into types and what words to use to compel each type to do her bidding.  Every graduate in the school takes the name of a poet.

Back to Wil and his captor Eliot (for T.S. Eliot), we learn that Wil is suffering a type of amnesia as a result of a disastrous and deadly event in Broken Hill, Australia.  The perpetrator of that event is someone named Woolf (Virginia Woolf), and she is out to get both Wil and Eliot.

It’s not possible to tell you more because it would spoil all the fun of reading it.  Just know that the book proves false the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Great characterization, intricate plotting, lots of action, and even some linguistic theory.   Max Barry is probably better known for Jennifer Government, a dystopian novel about a brave new corporate world where everything is privatized and people take the surname of their company.


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