Take a seat, remove your hats, and discard as well your fear of the outrageous, the brain-baffling, the bizarre. Prepare to behold a pageant without equal. Perhaps you’ve seen fire-eaters and contortionists. But who among you has looked upon a lipogram? A mondegreen? Zaum?
For most of us, a tree is a tree. But some — the imaginers, the tinkerers — turn trees into canoes and their leaves into sails. Those you’re about to meet are of this ilk. Their voyages? Extraordinary. Their persistence? Superhuman. The realm they explored? Not the physical one, but the airy land of letters.
You and I may barely notice the words flitting around us. But these men and women? Intoxicated by their shapes and sounds! Seeing music and mathematics where we see simply information! Collecting, dissecting, constructing verbal wonders as colossal and rarely glimpsed as the overgrown pyramids of the Mayans! Each of their tales is more astounding than the last. And every one of them true!
We take pride in our progress from caves to condominiums, but is that the whole story of humanity? If so, how to explain our elaborate pursuits that don’t improve the roofs over our heads or add a cent to our bank accounts? Could it be that we live not on bread alone but also on curiosity, challenge, beauty, and play?
Ponder the figures I’ll now introduce. Let the parade begin!
Copyright © 2019 by Paul Fleischman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.