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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Imp Plus, a brain removed from an individual with a wife and child, begins to develop self-awareness as it orbits the earth in a space capsule.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published July 16th 1988 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1976)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Brian by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

He knew memory, but saw that it was not the same as remember.

There is a magic at work in this fiction - an illumination of being that is almost an impossibility in the telling. Consciousness is a mysticism that works in one direction of time. The blueprints and framework creating the great I are torched as they are made known. It is right and holy and a protection that we don't remember learning the word Mother. Milk. Love. So in penning a work that brings the Reader through that process where
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

Hesiod’s Theogony.
Freud’s myth beyond the pleasure principle.
Genesis chapters one through eleven.
cogito ergo sum --> science.
Schelling’s The Ages of the World.
Philosophy coming to itself in Hegel’s History of Philosophy.
Consciousness from the This to Absolute Spirit ; The Phenomenology of Spirit.
Me Tarzan ; You Jane --> Us. Today. Now. Here.
Kasper Hauser.
Helen Keller, from nosight=nohearing=nolanguage to writing The Story of My Life.
From immersion of Dasein in everydayness to the thinking
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Joe has given himself an impossible task here. He has attempted to write a text which describes an emerging consciousness, a Being other than Dasien, who has enough of a memory of English words for them to be used in a rational manner. However, there is a fracture between signifier and signified, and an impossibly Other experience of existence being expressed. To give one example – a brain, of course, has no eyes and no nerve endings, so cannot "feel" or "see" in the way we use those words.
Max Nemtsov
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edited
Бескомпромиссно, духоподъемно и жизнеутверждающе. Ебаная герметика, алхимия из Барроуза, Бекетта и Джеймза Келмена (хотя Келмен начал позже). В качестве кинематографического эпиграфа очень годится шизофренический советский фильм "Я был спутником Солнца" (там как показано начало эксперимента, мучительно описываемого в романе, так что, возможно, это был приквел).
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hard to know where to start with this novel – the usual question of “what’s it about?” doesn’t really seem adequate, almost childish considering this thing. I mean part of the book is about a language beyond language, a journey beyond the frail scope of human existence and into the very fabric of definition and meaning, the foundations of the self – the first real transhumanist novel? maybe.

As Yves Abrioux says in his erudite review (link here) the book is a ‘”posthuman Bildingsroman” which
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcelroy
Take one part conventional Science Fiction story
Add two parts 'peppy' dialogue, 1 part vague 'techno' lingo
Slowly pour in love interest
Add 3/4 cup of 'saving the world' histrionics
Simmer on low for 45 minutes
Serve on decorative plate, garnished with edible flowers
Set entire plate on fire, beat it with the blunted side of an axe, and throw it out the window
Put head in blender

Okay, where to begin? What can be said about Plus? I think everyone will get something different out of it.
Jan 17, 2017 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Instantly among my favorite novels. I'm going to need some time to cobble together a review for this one. Lovely.


19 January 17

A few days have now passed, but, being the dyspeptic reader I am, who can say how many more days, how many more readings will be necessary before I can articulate the things I now can only intuit about this novel?

Initially, the obvious remark must be made about McElroy's stylistic uniqueness. There's nothing analogous. Friend David M. posits aesthetic kinship with
Josiah Morgan
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An outrageous accomplishment.
Ronald Morton
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Probably the weakest of the three McElroy books that I've read so far (the others at this point being Women and Men and Ancient History) and yet still a massive undertaking and accomplishment on McElroy's part.

Basically the book is a narrative about consciousness emerging, step by slow step - the narrative starts with basic awareness and then adds layer by layer - with additive vocabulary throughout the process - an awareness, and a remembered memory, that grows throughout the book.

David M
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A philosophical prose poem somewhat in the manner of the Unnameable, an exploration of the limits of personhood. Of course McElroy is far less grotesque than Beckett. The emotional content of his work can be difficult to register. By turns cold, paranoid, new age-y, and surprisingly traditional in his focus on familial themes. In its super-condensed and obscure fashion, Plus runs the gamut of McElory-isms.

This is now the fifth of his novels I've read. I would rank them in the following order,
Маx Nestelieiev
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
review in the form of letter to Joe

Dear Joe! Greetings from Ukraine!
I hope your day is going well.
I have just finished your Plus (new ebook edition by Dzanc + I`ve just read your Plus Light you sent me + some articles about it) and I must say the truth - it is an amazing work of art, I think it is more some kind of sci-religious prose poetry than just ordinary prose.

Some Thoughts I Had While Reading
(probably you can just skip this part of my
Маx Nestelieiev
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
second reading in translation+app. 10 articles on Plus (+excerpt from Chevalaillier+Tabbi+Brooke-Rose books)+several interviews+tons of e-mails to author himself: cyborg-cyberpunk-sci-fi-post-human novel about experiment, especially linguistic one+Paul Weiss conception on cells and Noam Chomsky`s famous sentence+more Beckett than Joyce+crazy syntax+neologisms+tragedy without tragedy+brain bairn in cosmic pastoral+story on the unexpected growth=masterpiece ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best 'science fiction' novel there is. A familiar plot explored in unfamiliar ways; the main questions being 'what is language without the human body' or more abstractly 'what are signifiers without the signs'.

two quotes I enjoyed from articles about this book:

" Plus amplifies semantic uncertainty and disarticulates language into its phonetic and syntactical elements, all the way down to noise, in order to magnify the process by which the relation between mind and communication is
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
No. Perhaps you will glean more from Plus than I did if you are less tied to certain conventions of the novel, perhaps you will glean more from Plus if you are less tied (even) to departures from those conventions! Perhaps you will glean more from Plus if you are merely looking for uninteresting symbols placed at calculated distances apart, spaced semi-regularly over an interval of some two hundred pages. Perhaps then, and only then, will Plus reveal its majesty, its true brilliance.

Not for me!
Jon Evans
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a very tough read, but if you enjoy sci-fi then pick it up and give it a try.It's about a brain that has been removed from a body and is orbiting the earth.
Brent Woo
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-the-brain
Travel light.

I've never read anything like this. If this was made into a movie, it'd be the world's most boring movie. But as a book, it's compelling and strange. On the surface it's about a brain in some sort of spacecraft, orbiting Earth. And the book is the brain thinking to itself. It's Flowers for Algernon in a sci-fi setting, but like what if Charlie was... um, just a brain.

You know how there's some authors who are good at hinting what the story is, or giving teasers where you outline the
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
"All came together loosely arranged by a force. It was there & touched Imp Plus who could feel it but not reach it"

"Plus" is one of the strangest books I've read, and certainly the only thing resembling science fiction – or maybe, more appropriately, fiction about science. In some basic sense, "Plus" is about a disembodied brain (IMP Plus) of a one time engineer– who had been suffering from fatal radiation poisoning–inserted into an IMP device (Interplanetary Monitoring Platform, a real NASA
Aditya Mallya
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Few authors must have set themselves as ambitious a task as Joseph McElroy does in Plus. He decides to write from the point of view of a being whose consciousness is just emerging. The manner in which he captures the sensory overload of raw consciousness is extraordinary - he also charts an entirely plausible journey for this character from sensation to sentience. With how convincingly it captures a hybrid human-artifical intelligence and what the perspective of this intelligence might look ...more
Pavel Gaiduk
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Colourless green ideas sleep furiously
Christopher Robinson
Incredible. Plus is my favorite of the McElroy novels I’ve read to date (my third, preceded by A Smuggler’s Bible and Lookout Cartridge). Brief but dense, lyrically technical prose that sounds absolutely gorgeous when read aloud. Very absorbing at the start, wonderfully baffling by midway, and incredibly moving by the end. I can’t recommend Plus highly enough. Also, go into it knowing as few details
about the plot as possible. Let yourself be truly surprised by Plus. It’s an unforgettable
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Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A tough read, but painfully faithful to what it must be like to be a disembodied brain orbiting the earth.
Marc Aramini
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Jui-Ting Hsu
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Women and Men: Plus -- 1977 43 100 Nov 12, 2018 05:10AM  

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Joseph McElroy is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist.

McElroy grew up in Brooklyn Heights, NY, a neighborhood that features prominently in much of his fiction. He received his B.A. from Williams College in 1951 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. He served in the Coast Guard from 1952–4, and then returned to Columbia to complete his Ph.D. in 1961. As an English
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