Ben Winch's Reviews > Xorandor

Xorandor by Christine Brooke-Rose
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really liked it
bookshelves: anglo

I actually think I enjoyed this more than Textermination . I liked the subtlety. Which is to say that while parts of it (the talking-rock computer, the “hexadex” slang, the excursions into programming language) weren’t subtle at all, in the background, almost as a matter of course, it did something I’ve rarely seen done so quietly: it interrogated itself. These two young egghead twins, see, tell the story in tandem, interrupting and disputing, and asking themselves always how best they can do what they must do, i.e. tell the story. And it’s a beautiful thing, because real-seeming, or as real as the story, a fantasy, requires it to be. Realer, given how easy it would have been for Christine Brooke-Rose to get away without it. Also I greatly appreciate Brooke-Rose’s attention to narrative detail—that is, the detail of how the narrative gets told, of how it becomes. The conversational tone, the conscientious citing and quoting of sources, later on the diarist’s approach; only in the very last scene does she slip, I think, with one of the twins venturing out alone and describing to a recording device much more than he could or would realistically describe. The scene itself is great though, bizarre; it sticks in the mind. The rock computer as messiah, the angry-then-fawning mob. A cartoon, a structural exercise, an experiment in voice, Xorandor reads to me like the work of a writer with nothing to lose, and who doesn’t much care if she “wins” either. Yes, there’s a touch of Riddley Walker, of Clockwork Orange. But while Xorandor’s linguistic experimentation is less bold than either it’s author’s grasp of story is greater. It’s flawed, a little silly, inevitably dated. But it’s unique and brilliant too, and makes me more curious than did Textermination to hunt down its author’s other titles.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August, 2014 – Finished Reading
September 16, 2018 – Shelved

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