Colson is back on track with this book– back to the level of The Intuitionist. I am thoroughly enjoying the playful nature of the subject matter– a nomenclature consultant is hired to rename a town. The musings on names is delightful. I am also struck by the description of people who are “other”– because the main character is black, whenever he encounters other black characters, they are simply described as “man” or “woman”; but when encountering whites, it’s “white man” and “white girl.” I like it. It reminds me that 99% of every other book is written in the other vein. And it reminds me of how my parents describe people– I’ve always been struck by their insistence to clarify that someone was a black guy, versus just being a guy. Hopefully this is a generational tic that will devolve out of use.
Now finished, I am well pleased with the entire story. The question of Freedom vs. New Preospera vs. Winthrop for the town, and the ultimate choice by the consultant (Struggle). His limp. His amputated toe b/c Apex really did hide the hurt as his toe got more and more infected. I like the way Colson teases out the story, parses out piece after piece, mentioning the narrator’s “precondition”, “incident”, even the considered names for the town. Lucky (new founder) vs. Albie (Winthrop old founder) vs. Regina (mayor). Muttonchops the bartender & the housekeeper who wages war on the consultant’s hotel room. The fact the nomenclature consultant remains nameless throughout.