The relatively new novel by Author, Max Berry, entitled Lexicon is equally mind opening and thrilling. It explores a very important function governing human consciousness, while telling a story so compelling that it could be any heist or fugitive premise and retain artistic merit. The exploration in to human persuasion and language could go even further. But I will take it as-is, simply because you can ask too much from artists. It would be asking for an instant and long standing classic to accomplish major insight in to consciousness, packed in to a perfect story. But for a solid novel that makes you think seriously about how language influences society, this is a great one, and I would recommend it for anyone with functioning eyeballs over age 14.
Berry’s method of storytelling adds depth unlike any fiction that I personally have read, although I do not read a lot of contemporary fiction. At the heart, this is a love story. At the gut, it is a technological thriller. And at the head, it is a study on moral psychology.
The story runs out the gate with a mysterious chase, set at the PDX airport, introducing the protagonist, Wil. Then it flies back in time, telling the story of Emily. The images are filmic. It reminds me of Memento and Annie Hall because the stories converge eventually by tracing backward. One can imagine a fantastic adaptation for screen that would outshine Bourne Identity any day of the year, to reference common reviewer comparisons. I would say rather, I would have guessed that Mike Daisey had been commissioned to author a thriller, had I read this blind.
The central question that concerns this book is the extent to which people are persuadable. Following an elite gang of “poets” who glide through life obtaining whatever they wish through mastery of linguistic persuasion, who influence media systems and politics globally, the reader is confronted with the possibility that they are very, very fallible. Engaged with the story deeply, you can not help but become more enlightened by the end of the read.
Each chapter ends with some kind of news story or historical artifact that either demonstrates how the public dialogue is confused or lays out important observations to hold in mind as the story unfolds. Is it possible that we have been persuaded to live this way? If we choose completely, why do we choose things we do not like to do? The philosophical question of free will is entirely answered by Mr. Berry this way: you have almost none. But concerning the way he arrives there, it is absolutely worth discovering.