Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Athena K's Review - C

The more I sit and think about C by Tom McCarthy, the more I am fascinated by it - I think it might be brilliant. This is not to say I enjoyed every aspect of my read, or that I understood why on earth Tom McCarthy took me to certain places until well after they were over. But his dexterous weaving of complex themes is starting to make more and more sense as I reflect on them - or am I finding patterns and interpreting codes that don't exist?

The novel opens with the birth of a baby boy, Serge Carrefax, second child of an eclectic set of parents. Serge's father runs a school for deaf children that emphasizes teaching them to speak and be understood - and he is fascinated with "modern" wireless communication technology. Serge's mother is deaf (and a former student) who inherited a family silk factory - complete with insect-residents. Serge's older sister Sophie is his greatest companion (and a compelling character) until her untimely death. From these characters, three themes emerge - communication, insects, and death - and are repeated in countless ways time and again through Serge's action-filled life.

It is the continual re-appearance of these themes in Serge's life that ultimately makes this book a comprehensive unit. Serge's adventures as a sick adolescent, WWI pilot, architecture student, drug addict, and Egyptian explorer often cause jarring juxtapositions in the story that took me some getting used to. But I'm having so much fun reflecting back on what it all means, and trying to decode the appearance of insects, communications and death throughout the book, that I'm not sure it matters to me anymore. And don't get me started on the book's title - there are so many instances of the letter C that I can't begin to decide the importance of them. And what about Serge's lifelong problem conveying physical perspective (a problem indeed for a student of architecture)? I would love to convene a discussion group just to pick apart this novel.

Although sometimes I felt lost in the middle, this read was worth it and has stayed with me for many days

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