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 multi-volume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorised 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 digitised.
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 an often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn and undefinable life. The Liar’s Dictionary explores themes of trust and creativity, naming the unnameable, and celebrates the rigidity, fragility and absurdity of language.
It is an exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer.