Marc Kozak's Reviews > C

C by Tom McCarthy
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's review
Aug 01, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Read from November 11 to December 02, 2011

We live in an age of information overload. There's as much data around us, visible or invisible, as oxygen practically. I often like to think about what the internet will be like in 5, 10, 20 years. At some point, there's going to be a time when there is just SO much information on it - active and non-active, abandoned Livejournals, decades-old records of transactions, discarded emails, forgotten websites, log after countless log - it will all, theoretically, still be around, and still be available to look at. What will we do? Keep it there? Reboot the Matrix?

Tom McCarthy's C takes it a step further. Think about radio waves, satellite transmissions, energy expelled from humans even! Where does it all go? Can we find it again if we need to? There's a lovely little passage where the main character's father goes off on an excited tangent about the possibility of finding and recreating energy and information from people in the past. Is this a way to travel through time? Can we still see a lost loved one? Can we go to the site of the cross and still find Jesus?

Not a lot really happens in C. The pace is super slow, the character's are static, and I can definitely see how many would find this boring - but I was riveted. For the first 200 pages, this was 5 star stuff. McCarthy's prose lazily goes along, covering little but finding ways to stick in your mind. 60 or so pages in, McCarthy describes a boy, on the eve of radio, searching the airwaves, sifting through the static, getting pieces of Morse code, signals from boats, not really looking for anything, but looking for SOMETHING. Something important, something meaningful.

“The air is rich tonight: still and cold, high pressure, the best time of year. . . . Above 650, the clicks dissipate into a thin, pervasive noise, like dust. Discharges break across this: distant lightning, aurora borealis, meteorites. Their crashes and eruptions sound like handfuls of buckshot thrown into a tin bucket, or a bucketful of grain-rich gravy dashed against a wash-boiler. Wireless ghosts come and go, moving in arpeggios that loop, repeat, mutate, then disappear.”

It's beautiful. Throughout there's a melancholic, isolated tone, like you're sitting on a roof on a clear night, looking up at the sky, feeling small but satisfied.

**UPDATED 3/2013 to 5 stars and favorites shelf. It's been more than a year and I still think about this all of the time.
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Reading Progress

11/17/2011 page 70
22.0% "This is brilliant so far, can't wait to get back to reading it."
11/28/2011 page 200
63.0% "Nothing is progressing very quickly, but the writing is so good I don't even care!"
03/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Marc Kozak Haha well you should definitely read it before sending it back! I agree about the "creeper" effect - the more I think about C, the more I feel it is 5 star worthy. There was so much cool stuff about looking for codes and signals in every day things - I now find myself looking for secret messages in leaf patterns or pigeon movements. I guess if a novel's impact = making me possibly insane, that is 5 stars without a doubt, or I don't know what is. Will definitely get Remainder now!

message 2: by JSou (new) - added it

JSou You should send it back.

No really, don't. : ) We all know I'll track down another copy in no time. I forgot until I read this review how cool this sounded.

message 3: by JSou (last edited Dec 07, 2011 01:14PM) (new) - added it

JSou NO!!! It was a gift, dork! : )

I know what you mean though; Marc, I really liked your review and it made me curse Scott Spicer's name for sending him a copy and leaving me with NOTHING.

(Again, kidding.)

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