According to a Telegraph story by Kim Willsher, “a French author has produced what he claims is the first book with no verbs.”
Perhaps inevitably, critics have commented unfavourably on the lack of action in Michel Thaler’s work, The Train from Nowhere, which runs to 233 pages. Instead of action, lengthy passages are filled with florid adjectives in a series of vitriolic portraits of dislikeable passengers on a train…
The author, a doctor of literature who admits that “Thaler” is a pseudonym, and who has not previously written books under the name, said it was liberating to write without verbs, which he describes as “invaders, dictators, and usurpers of our literature”.
“My book is a revolution in the history of literature. It is the first book of its kind. It’s daring, modern and is to literature what the great Dada and Surrealist movements were to art,” said Mr Thaler, an eccentric who refuses to reveal his real name or age, beyond admitting to being in his sixties.
“The verb is like a weed in a field of flowers,” he said. “You have to get rid of it to allow the flowers to grow and flourish.
“I am like a car driver who has smashed the windscreen so he cannot see into the future, smashed the rear-view mirror so he cannot see the past, and is travelling in the present.”
Mr Thaler says that he hopes Le Train de Nulle Part, which costs ?20 (£14) will be translated into English.
In France, with its long and distinguished literary heritage, the reading public is struggling to fathom whether the work is any more than an exercise in semantics and strangled grammar.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Thaler’s book grows to be as admired as La Disparition (The Disappearance), which Georges Perec wrote in 1969 without using the letter “e”. Mr Perec, who tried to expand literature by borrowing formal patterns from other disciplines such as mathematics and chess, followed it up with Les Revenantes [sic—actually Les Revenentes, as a commenter pointed out] (The Ghosts), in which the only vowel he used was “e”.