a void

“Incurably insomniac, Anton Vowl turns on a light.”

This post is mostly about lipograms. A lipogram (for any man or woman out past this monitor with no grasp on this word’s signification or connotation) is writing with constraint, such as taking out a particular symbol of our linguistic toolkit and not allowing it into a book, play or ballad. A Void (originally La Disparition in Français) is a fiction of full duration that has a total lack of a particular grammatical prop (to quoth our book’s blurb). Which? That which is most common in our jargon. A non-consonant that shows up not at all in 278 lists of paragraphs. Now, with much difficulty, I will try to copy this action in my post. Pass luck my way!

So. Location? Paris. Plot? Conflicting, smart and wily. Author? That you must look up without my aid, as this poor chap’s autonym contains four of our taboo initial. I can say, though, that it was Mr Adair who brought this Parisian’s story to our British coast. Kudos must rain down on this translator, who has such skill to pull off an act of amazing transnational wordplay.

Our story, such as it is, follows protagonist Anton Vowl, an insomniac and curious man, who starts noticing things amiss in his days. A void, if you will. Trying to find out what is going on, our man absconds with small warning. His companions and chums, now full of confusion as to his location raid his flat, find his diary and start to fix a jigsaw that Vowl was doing. Is Vowl hiding, or has an onimous, ill-boding action had its dark way with him? Living or pushing up tulips? Olga, Arthur, Amaury and Squawk must find out.

Showmanship is also on display within, such as with proxy forms of famous historical works, most notably a popular soliloquy from a world-class bard born in Stratford-upon-Avon (“Living or not living: that is what I ask”), and a scary composition about a particular black bird that affirms a synonym for, “Not again!” (Work it out, guys.)

All must assign paudits to our author, with his magical ability to construct a functional narration without allowing author or bookworm so much as a sniff of that missing symbol. I may try and copy his skill in this post, but a short handful of words is nothing in comparasion to what witchcraft this saint of wordplay has wrought. I doubt not for a jiffy that it is a book of fantastic skill, although ocasionally wording is a bit much, sounding almost archaic as our author must do a small amount of acrobatic wordsmithing to comply with his laws and stick to his guns. Floaty, occasionally stodgy communication, and using tricks of a rascal and crook in particular paragraphs, such as using USA-isms (“ax”, “gray” and so on) or cutting off folk part way through dialog. I’m guilty of similar tricks too…

It’s hard going, but it’s totally worth it. Six stars, for I cannot apply a digit a fraction minor thanks to my limitations. For my following post, I shall go back to normal for, as you may fancy, this was hard! How an author can maintain it for a full yarn, I cannot fathom. Congratulations to him and his translator!

Want to know about a book that contains our total linguistic toolkit, but also cannibals, gods, black magic and tabloid journalists? Hop aboard an Atomic and Bloody Bus, now on Amazon, a first book by yours truly.

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