The Liar's Dictionary

The Liar's Dictionary

A Novel

eBook - 2021
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"Delightful...Underneath this novel's extremely bookish mystery is the idea that our identities are as improvisatory as the words we affix to them, and that even the dictionary, the most seemingly staid and impartial arbiter of truth, is an 'unreliable narrator.'" --The Wall Street Journal An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel from a prize-winning new talent which chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world. Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement. Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby's multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitized. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of marriage really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby's staff to 'burn in hell'? As these two narratives combine, both Winceworth and Mallory discover how they might negotiate the complexities of the often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, and undefinable path we call life. An exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer, The Liar's Dictionary celebrates the rigidity, fragility, absurdity, and joy of language.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2021
ISBN: 9780385546782
Characteristics: 288 p
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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llewol
Jan 24, 2021

I was really looking forward to this book, based on the reviews I had read. It features two characters who are involved in working on an encyclopeadic dictionary about 100 years apart. The author clearly loves words, as do I, but I gave up on the book about a third of the way through. My problem was I really did not like either of the protagonists. Maybe I would have grown to love them - or least to have found them interesting - if I had kept going. But, I am past the point in my life where I want to keep going in a book I find a slog, so it just didn't work for me.

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2greyts
Jan 18, 2021

Perhaps it’s best to indulge in psychotropics when reading this book. Better yet, don’t bother.

b
brangwinn
Jan 05, 2021

I love words. I grew up with a dictionary next to the table where we ate our meals, so this book was written for me. Based on the premise that a multi-volume dictionary written in the 1930’s was to be digitized with no update with new words, Mallory, who is the only employee of the dictionary’s London office. It is also the story of Winceworth, who lived 100 years ago and was in charge of the “S” section of the dictionary. It took me a while to figure out that the two narrators were living in different times. Winceworth, to stave off boredom, created made up words or mountweazels. As Mallory reads the dictionary in preparation for digitizing, she begins to sense Winceworth’s personality in the words he has made up. The characters are important in the story, but first and foremost it’s the exploration of language, words and meanings that take center stage. And while, I enjoyed the book, I found myself counting the number of pages until the end.

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