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Arc d'X

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  420 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Thomas Jefferson's love for, and enslavement of, his mistress, Sally Hemings, forms the center of an exploration of the American spirit.
Paperback, 298 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Henry Holt & Company (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 18, 2012 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2016 Jill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: heartstopping
Oh, just -- quiet, rain storm: let me think.
Pathetic fallacy is a literary device that suggests a connection between human qualities; emotions, and the weather.

There is no pathetic fallacy in Steve Erickson. Nothing so formal; nothing so easy to interpret.
There are no literary devices. Not here.

There is a black sense of something seething out from between the cracks. There is history, restructured and reviled and revered; characters that social justice fighters would claim have been defiled or v
May 17, 2009 Caleb rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 20, 2012 Eraserhead rated it liked it
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
Sep 12, 2008 Carl rated it liked it
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
May 29, 2007 Shane rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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.
Lucy Palmer
Oct 18, 2016 Lucy Palmer rated it really liked it
More than anything else, this book brought into focus the failings of the five start rating system for me. Not because I had a particularly strong opinion one way or the other that five measly categories couldn't possibly manage to summarise, but rather the opposite.

Reading through the other reviews of this book (all twenty two of them), I was struck by how I empathised with them all. From the people who couldn't make it through the first one hundred pages because it was too uncomfortable - if u
Ubik 2.0
Nov 13, 2012 Ubik 2.0 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Aug 13, 2011 Splashconception rated it liked it
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
Mar 18, 2008 eric rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 24, 2015 Edward rated it liked it
Sometimes you write even though you're tired, or you just woke up, or you're not in the mood, just so you can meet your daily work count. Weird things come out. Later you're like hmmm that didn't work out at all. Other times it works out better than you could have planned.
Jul 13, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 01, 2010 Valissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"And she watched take flight, like a black moth from his dead mouth, the name of the woman he loved."
Paul Rack
Vintage Erickson, with parallel universes and alternate histories, centered around Sally Hemings, Jefferson's black mistress. Worth reading just for the ride.
Brent Legault
Apr 28, 2009 Brent Legault rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 02, 2014 Dayna rated it did not like it
Shelves: quitter
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.
Dec 28, 2011 Angharadtoms rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tkm rated it liked it
Feb 22, 2014
Aidan Baker
Aidan Baker rated it it was amazing
Jul 01, 2015
Audrey rated it it was amazing
Jun 01, 2012
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Hank Stuever rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2013
Rrrrrron rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2013
Paul Dembina
Paul Dembina rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2012
Lewis Major
Lewis Major rated it really liked it
Oct 20, 2016
Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Nov 23, 2013
Aron rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2015
Gary rated it it was amazing
Dec 07, 2011
Oblique rated it really liked it
Nov 01, 2011
Andrew LaBerteaux
Andrew LaBerteaux rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2015
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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.

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“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.”
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