Read: Lingua Franca by William Thacker
June 3, 2016 2 Comments
The publisher, Legend Press, says: “There’s a problem with Barrow, but it can be fixed. You just need to change the name to Birdseye. ‘Birdseye-in-Furness…’
Miles Platting is pulled from the ruins of a shipwreck into a world in which no one will speak to him. The founder of Lingua Franca – a naming rights agency committed to renaming every UK town after a corporate sponsor – Miles recounts the story of his quest for linguistic supremacy to anyone who’ll listen. Confined to his hospital bed in a deathly quiet ward, Miles seeks to find his colleagues and reunite with his true love. But in doing so, Miles must confront his deepest held convictions and consider, ‘what’s in a name?’ in a world where the spoken word has been replaced with silence.”
This was a short, fun read. Miles is on a quest to have each town in the UK named after a brand that would then pay for each town’s upkeep. A kind of sponsorship, so UK towns don’t fall into disrepair any further . What a fun and crazy and scary idea! Would you like to live in Mothercare (rather than Motherwell) or Birdseye rather than Barrow? Miles only sees the advantages but many people around the country are not so charmed by the idea.
The beginning of the book felt a bit like an episode of The Office, where we see Miles deal with daily office life, trying to keep his salespeople happy and efficient. After a tragedy, and a long conversation with his wife – or possibly ex-wife, the way things are going – Miles starts to have doubts about what he and his company are doing. Still, he goes with the flow and attends the naming ceremony of Barrow-in-Furness (to be renamed Birdseye-in-Furness), where things don’t go so smoothly: the townspeople are strongly opposed to the name change.
Somehow, in an unspecified future time, Miles finds himself in a hospital where no one speaks. What happened, we find out in due course. I should mention that it seems an impossible idea for no one in a hospital to speak – imagine a silent operation! Will the patient survive? Does the surgeon have enough hands to carry out the operation and meanwhile signing to the nurse what instrument she wants next? I’m not sure!
Still, it was a fun read, if rather improbable. It could almost be called a post-apocalyptic story, which is one of my favorite genres.