The Flame Alphabet
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a novel about how far we will go in order to protect our loved ones.
The sound of children's speech has become lethal. In the park, adults wither beneath the powerful screams of their offspring. For young parents Sam and Claire, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther. But they find it isn't so easy to leave someone you love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a foreign world to try to save his family.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Unlike Anything Else
This novel is truly unlike any other I have read. It kept me up late at night and had me waking up early just to fit reading time in my busy schedule.
Really want to like it, but I just don
I love language and thinking about communication. I thought that a book about people falling sick because of their children would be a powerful meditation of communication, maybe with some insights into family dynamics and children rejecting their parents. Instead, I got obscure thoughts about Judaism and paper thin characters. The author seems stuck between wanting to write a compelling narrative and wanting to impart deep thoughts about knowledge and religion and failing at both.
Overall, it is more about religion than it is about language. The family dynamics are thin to the point of non-existent. His wife and child are cardboard boxes that the narrator whines about. I found the main character to be wholly unsympathetic and really had no investment in his life one way or the other. He seemed to have no investment in anything, and I found myself unable to finish the book out of sheer boredom and complete lack of intellectual and emotional engagement.
It might get better towards the end, but I just didn't really care enough to find out.
Swerved a bit too much into implausibility
I liked the whole idea of wrapping "language is a virus" around teenage intractability. However, when the protagonist launched into language design without any reference to Shannon, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Grice, etc. etc. it almost lost me.
Its an interesting look at someone much more incurious, uninformed, and insensitive than most trying to come to grips with something horrific and unprecedented.