Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Arc d'X” as Want to Read:
Arc d'X
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Arc d'X

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  361 ratings  ·  19 reviews
'Happiness is a dark thing to pursue and the pursuit itself is a dark thing as well.' These are the words of Erickson's Thomas, guiding spirit of this passionate, brave, unforgettable novel. In Thomas' love for his fourteen-year old slave, Sally, and in her irrevocable choice to forfeit freedom for that love, lies the emblematic dilemma that has forged our nation's destiny ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Henry Holt & Company (first published 1993)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Arc d'X, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Arc d'X

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Highbrow Fantasy Books
103rd out of 299 books — 442 voters
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeThe Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. ChestertonSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySunshine by Robin McKinleyThe 13 Clocks by James Thurber
Books Neil Gaiman Recommends
21st out of 44 books — 17 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 651)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Szplug
Bringing the whole bag of weird and eerie goodies back into the Eighteenth Century, which means identity slippage and evaporation, heated sexual trysts with hierarchies of dominance and submission that dematerialize under close or extended observation, powerplays and pursuits, ghostly resonances that emerge like flickering fireflies to wreak their time-enchained destinies upon semen-sown reincarnations, and—most excellently of all—working in Mr. Deist himself, Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father a ...more
Caleb
Best book ever. I'm not kidding. It's the book I wish I had the talent to write anyway. It's surreal and chaotic and brilliant. Thomas Jefferson's in it and Thomas Pynchon thinks it's like the Declaration of Independence. It's essentially a surreal tale about the kinds of slavery we engage ourselves in at the then-cusp of the millennium but filtered through a crazy lens that includes Sally Hemings at the core of it. Etcher's pain moved me to bits. It's awesome. I can't praise this book enough.
Carl
This was a reread. Wasn't really working for me this time around, though, so I put it down. I'd still recommend to anyone who hasn't read Erickson. This or any of his other 3 early novels (Rubicon Beach, Days Between Stations, Tours of the Black Clock). Very much takes you into mesmerizing alternate dream-realities, usually somewhat post-apocalyptic. He has a fine hypnotic writing style. He can get pretty heavy-handed and repetitive with the metaphors, but he's much more accessible than, say, th ...more
Shane
Good writing, cool atmosphere, too much sex (I'm definitely not a prude but it was a bit gratuitous). In the middle it seemed like it was going nowhere but the way he linked all the characters together at the end was fabulous.
Steve
Pynchon on ARC D'X (1993):

Mind-warping in its vision, absolute in its integrity, Arc d'X is classic Erickson--as daring, crazy, and passionate as any American writing since the Declaration of Independence.
Ubik 2.0


Torrenziale e labirintico, questo libro “massimalista” come è giustamente definito nella postfazione rende difficile esprimere un giudizio oggettivo e sereno. Il lettore è afferrato in continuazione da sensazioni contraddittorie ed alternativamente è catturato dal fascino dell’opera (irresistibile in alcuni capitoli) e respinto dall’artificialità di molti passaggi e personaggi che la costituiscono.

C’è una capacità di sorprendere che, unita all’inventiva e alla sovrabbondanza di temi, richiama no
...more
Eraserhead
Great premise and opens like a shotgun blast. I was with him for the first first character shifts, but after a while it seemed like he was doing it just for the hell of it. I couldn't care less ebout Etcher, Georgie or Erickson, and the book sort of meanders past the point with clumsy allusions to History Slavery and Sex. The writing is also quite purple at time. You can only call someone's cunt her 'vacancy' for so long before I have to chuckle. I give it a three for the great writing that is t ...more
Nate
May 25, 2007 Nate marked it as to-read
From Library Journal
Powerful but at times difficult, this book begins as a historical novel but soon becomes surreal and startlingly visionary. In Paris as the French Revolution seethes around him, Thomas Jefferson is torn between his lofty ideals and his undeniable passion for the quadroon slave Sally Hemmings. Sally's spirit reappears with dire consequences in Aeonopolis, a grim totalitarian city outside time because it sits beyond "the X of the arcs of history and the heart." Erickson's idios
...more
Splashconception
Erickson is a master at the psychological/mythological, though I think he works out more inventive prose in his later novels. Sometimes this book is trying/hard to grasp, moving through all the different incarnations of Sally/Thomas/Erickson ect...and sometimes the over-dramatic metaphors of love/freedom/history can move from on-point to just overdramatic and trying on one's patience. Lots of interesting narrative about the function of memory and freedom and the relationship between freedom and ...more
eric
Like taking a Pynchon novel and stripping out the coherent bits and the humor to create an extended disturbing hallucination. Multiple storylines, each weird on its own, may or may not intersect (who can really tell?) but not in a coherent way that is apparent to me. What does it mean? I don't know but I like it a lot. I first read this a few years ago and am glad I decided to return.
Brent Legault
I couldn't slog through this one. I thought that the whole Tom & Sally thing was drab and confining, a grey straitjacket of prose. And stylistically bland as well: overstocked with stock phrases.
Angharadtoms
this book is absolutely stunning. the only reason i didn't give rubicon beach a 5 is because it leaves no room to express how good this book is
Dayna
At about a 100 pages in, I had to quit this book. The plot was interesting, but there is way too much rape. It's kind of awful.
Valissa
"And she watched take flight, like a black moth from his dead mouth, the name of the woman he loved."
Aaron Clark
One of my favorites by Steve Erickson. It's a shame it's out of print...
senator jensen
Really wild. Quite the subterranean journey in time and space.
k. tauches
better than pynchon. . .more than post-modern fiction.
Viva
nice history/scifi combination... with sex to boot
Josher71
I tried. I really did.
Voss
Voss added it
Dec 16, 2014
Mike O'Shaughnessy
Mike O'Shaughnessy is currently reading it
Dec 12, 2014
Elizabeth
Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Dec 11, 2014
GT
GT marked it as to-read
Dec 09, 2014
Matt Parks
Matt Parks marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2014
Orion Zangara
Orion Zangara marked it as to-read
Nov 15, 2014
Ian Scuffling
Ian Scuffling marked it as to-read
Nov 11, 2014
Shaun Deane
Shaun Deane marked it as to-read
Nov 10, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Rifles
  • Hell
  • Heathern
  • Patterns
  • Doctor Rat
  • Slaughtermatic
  • The Public Burning
  • The Chess Garden
  • Softspoken
  • The John Fante Reader
  • Fiskadoro
  • The Last Novel
  • Teach Yourself Beginner's Hindi Script
  • White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings
  • Creature
  • Easy Travel to Other Planets
  • Veil: New and Selected Poems
  • The Cannibal
5279
Stuttered as a child, a motif which often appears in his writing.

Began writing stories at age seven. Began publishing as a teen. Wrote first novel at seventeen.

Studied film and journalism at UCLA.

Received Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.

More about Steve Erickson...
Zeroville The Sea Came in at Midnight Days Between Stations Tours of the Black Clock These Dreams of You

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“When the thing that emerged from the collision of sex and freedom, called love, collided with the thing that emerged from the collision of time and memory, called history, the dreams began to come.” 4 likes
“He had thrilled to his own power only in the throes of sex, when he didn't have the presence of mind to know that pleasure wouldn't last forever, and in the flush of freedom, when he was too innocent to know he wasn't free.
Now he seized the power that came from that collision of sex with freedom called love.”
2 likes
More quotes…