I’ve always liked Jonathan Gould’s books. He has a unique quirky kind of style that is both humorous and insightful. This is the best of the Neville books so far. It’s magical realism in that the whole thing is an extended metaphor. Neville is drowning in a sea of words. He is buffeted by words, swamped by words and hit by torrents of words.
He meets word fish, snarks and carps and groupers, amongst others. Their words have an effect on him and on their surroundings. Why is the carp so dingy compared to the other word fish? Because he’s made out of words that belittle and carp on the negative. Colourful words create coral in this language metaphor. Wispy words wave like fern fronds and so on.
But as time goes on, Neville discovers that he too is turning into words. He meets a wermaid who tells him that the word world is taking over the real world. She doesn’t see that as a problem until Neville points out that words only have meaning because they relate to something real in the real world, and the word world us getting very fuzzy. Then she decides to help him save the word world in order to save both worlds.
This is a short work, easily read in one sitting and enjoyable for all ages. It’s a simple story, but sleek and well paced, and it builds to a dramatic conclusion. I heartily recommend it.