Forgotten book title, YA fiction about erasing books
January 13, 2011 12:21 PM Subscribe
Yet another forgotten-book-from-my-youth question. Probably in the early/mid-80s I read a book where there was a device of some sort which could either change the contents of a book or erase it completely. I don't remember the mechanism, but I'm pretty sure that when this device was used, it affected all copies of the book it was being used on, everywhere. So you could change the name of a character in your copy of the book, and in all the libraries across the world, that would now be the character's name. I don't remember if it also affected everyone's memory of the book or not, so that the new name would always have been that character's name.
posted by hades to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure the protagonist is male and around 16 years old -- at one point I think he drives a truck with a trailer. Or maybe he has a librarian friend who drives a truck with a trailer, and he's impressed at how well she can drive it in reverse, which is explained by her having driven the bookmobile or something.
The one thing I'm pretty sure I remember right is that the protagonist's favorite book is "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch", and the plot is at least in part driven by his either noticing a change having been made to it or wanting to stop the antagonist before any changes can be made. Maybe he notices that Nathaniel Bowditch's name has been changed?
The antagonist may have been a stepfather, or mother's new boyfriend. There may be two protagonists, a brother and sister.
On reflection, the device must have needed the original manuscript of a book to work, or something like that, because I remember there being a race-against-time element to the plot, and that wouldn't make any sense if the person with the device could just walk into a bookstore and use it on the first copy of the book he could find.
It definitely isn't anything by Jasper Fforde, but I think reading one of those is what reminded me of this.
Does this ring any bells? Normally I'm pretty good with Google, but since the only detail I recall with any clarity is "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch", all my search results are talking about that book, not the one I'm looking for.