The Word Exchange
English · Paperback
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Zusatztext 46741730 Informationen zum Autor Alena Graedon Klappentext Books! libraries! and newspapers have at last become things of the past. Now handheld Memes allow for constant communication and entertainment. They can even anticipate our needs! dialing the doctor before we know we're sick! or prompting us with words we can't recall. Yet a few dedicated wordsmiths are still laboring on the final print edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. But one evening! right before it's released! Anana Johnson finds that the chief editor-her father-has vanished. In alternating points of view! Anana and her bookish colleague Bart follow their only clue! the word ALICE! down the proverbial rabbit hole! into subterranean passages! the stacks of the Mercantile Library! and secret meetings of an anti-Meme underground resistance! racing closer to the truth about Anana's father's disappearance! and discovering a frightening connection to the growing "word flu" pandemic. A Al•ice \'a-l?s\ n : a girl transformed by reflection On a very cold and lonely Friday last November, my father disappeared from the Dictionary. And not only from the big glass building on Broadway where its offices were housed. On that night my father, Douglas Samuel Johnson, Chief Editor of the North American Dictionary of the English Language, slipped from the actual artifact he’d helped compose. That was before the Dictionary died, letters expiring on the page. Before the virus. Before our language dissolved like so much melting snow. It was before I nearly lost everything I love. Words, I’ve come to learn, are pulleys through time. Portals into other minds. Without words, what remains? Indecipherable customs. Strange rites. Blighted hearts. Without words, we’re history’s orphans. Our lives and thoughts erased. Before my father vanished, before the first signs of S0111 arrived, I’d reflected very little on our way of life. The changing world I’d come of age in—slowly bereft of books and love letters, photographs and maps, takeout menus, timetables, liner notes, and diaries—was a world I’d come to accept. If I was missing out on things, they were things I didn’t think to miss. How could we miss words? We were drowning in a sea of text. A new one arrived, chiming, every minute. All my life my father mourned the death of thank-you notes and penmanship. The newspaper. Libraries. Archives. Stamps. He even came to miss the mobile phones he’d been so slow to accept. And of course he also grieved the loss of dictionaries as they went out of print. I could understand his nostalgia for these things. The aesthetics of an old Olivetti. A letter opener. A quill pen. But I’d dismissed him when he’d spoken darkly of vague “consequences” and the dangers of the Meme. When he’d lectured on “accelerated obsolescence” and “ouroboros” and foretold the end of civilization. For years, as he predicted so much of what eventually came to happen—the attenuation of memory; the ascendance of the Word Exchange; later, the language virus—no one listened. Not the government, or the media, or the publishing industry. Not my mother, who grew very tired of these plaints. Not me, even after I went to work for him when I was twenty-three. No one worried about the bends we might get from progress; we just let ourselves fly higher up. Well—not quite no one. I later learned that my father had conspirators. Those who shared his rare beliefs. But I didn’t find them until after the night he departed. Or, in fact, they sort of found me. My father and I were supposed to meet for dinner at the Fancy Diner on Fifty-second Street, a childhood ritual revived only a month before—the night my boyfriend, Max, had moved out. Our four years together, turned to dust. Maybe the breakup shouldn’t have come as a shock; we’d both tried ending things in the past. But I’d thought we’d ...
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