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Munmun

Book Cover

Munmun

Jesse Andrews
4
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019

Whoa! Now here's an exercise in extended metaphor. Andrews has taken an idea that could have been a simple allegory and turned it into a fully developed novel. Imagine, if you will, an alternate reality in which physical size is literally determined by wealth. A standard person is middlescale. The middlerich are those larger than that up two doublescale and the middlepoor extend to halfscale. Smaller than that are the littlepoors: quarterscale, eighthscale, and tenthscale--about the size of a rat. The bigrich just get bigger and bigger to hundreds of feet tall. Buildings, roads, vehicles, and all the rest exist at multiple scales to suit the needs of the different sizes, and people can scale up or scale down as their possession of munmun (money) changes.

As you might guess, Being littlepoor is notsogood. That's how thirteen-year-old Warner begins telling his tale. His dad was recently killed by a middlerich kid who accidentally stepped on their house when scuffling with friends and his mom was recently paralyzed when a cat attacked her at the dump. Too young for jobs and too small for school, he and his older sister set out with a friend to see if they can find a way to scale up. Their journey across the economic landscape includes encounters with middlepoor competition, middlerich exploitation, bigrich charity, gang enslavement, school, jail, marriage, and more. It's a biting, angry satire that explores many dimensions of rampant consumerism and extreme wealth inequality.

Warner narrates his story with his distinct voice, a semi-literate, somewhat stream-of-consciousness dialect unique to his circumstances, filled with munmun jargon and future slang.

Did you blurt a little giggly laugh? No you, didn't, okay good, ofcourse thanks for not laughing, sorry for being the Laugh Police. That story to me is just not super funny. But to other people, a littlebit funny. Mostly these are the people too big to worry about getting stomped, squashed, catcrippled, sewerdrowned, mudburied, any of your classic littlepoor terrors.

It's a bit jarring at first, but easy to slip into and vaguely rhythmic. As a narrator, Warner is by turns angry, insightful, and funny. He changes as his life situations dictate, though no matter his scale he is inescapably defined his littlepoor beginnings. His is a tragic tale meant to spur readers to reflect on their own scales, and it succeeds entertainingly and marvelously. Highly recommended.

Chris K.

Written by Chris K.

Fun fact: Experts estimate that the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles an hour.

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