„[…] we make them feel valued so long as they don’t ask for better working conditions; and so long as they upload pictures on social media so that everyone thinks we’re a fun company.“
Author: William Thacker
Title: Lingua Franca
Number of Pages: 288
Obligatory Star Rating: 2,5/5
Miles Platting has founded a company re-naming British towns after companies. While some townspeople are glad about the economic benefices of these kinds of sponsorship, others place more value on traditions and things like the integrity of language. Weird, funny and sad events ensue.
When I stumbled upon this book on Netgalley my initial reaction might have been something like „Oh, a book like this is always a nice idea!“ A book like this meaning: a book about language and meaning and reality and stuff.
Sadly, then, I discovered, that it really was just a book like this and I hardly got the feeling it was a book in its own right. While I liked the idea behind it, at times I wished Mr. Thacker had not decided to make a story out of it, because the story, the characters, the relationship dynamics were what sadly mostly bored me. Nothing seemed memorable, or, for the lack of a better word, original. Ever so often I found myself thinking “ah, so here’s also a character/scene like this”. Without even being able to define this more closely, I just way too often had the feeling of having read everything before. A first person narrator with this detached, concise, unadorned style. This kind of relationship with his (ex)wife who has this bubbling personality which is all too fitting the exact opposite of his; all of those ideological differences which cloud their relationship.
There were interesting passages, though, witty one-liners and other quote-worthy quotes, and, most importantly, ideas I want to think or write more about. As I said above – sometimes I wished this wasn’t a story, and that the author instead had decided to publish, I don’t know, a collection of loosely connected dialogues, aphorisms or scenes and thereby would have let me skip the boring parts in between.
While I could not get invested in the book at the beginning, as it got closer to the end it turned out to be more captivating, but I don’t know if the fact that the last ~ 50 pages finally grabbed my attention counts as a redeeming factor.
I actually feel sorry that I am writing so negatively. It was a well-written book and brought up some interesting thoughts, I just had expected more. In general, I think this book is more fun to talk about than actually read.
All in all I would describe it as a sometimes tiresome but still worthwhile reading experience. The lack of originality and connectability with stories and characters is made up for by the ideas behind it. There were some cute and witty scenes and phrases, so I did not just sit there stony-faced and bored. And, after all – it’s a pretty short book. Arriving at this state of having read instead of reading will not take long and then you are able to think and talk about it.