Michael's Reviews > C

C by Tom McCarthy
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's review
Jul 30, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, historical-fiction, england, germany, world-war-1, egypt
Read in March, 2011

I do seek out such novels as this that try to make sense of our place in the universe. But as usual I find such books a challenge to read and hard to walk away with an easy message (Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" comes to mind as another example). The book "C" covers the evolution of young Brit Serge from the Edwardian period in rural England, through a stint as an aviator artillery spotter in World War 1, to multicutural Egypt around 1920 in the throes of independence. The overall theme appears to be the impact of technology and modern war on individual consciousness. Starting with the influences of his father and the loss of his sister, young Serge appears to imbibe an engineer's approach to reality with defiencies in the ability to experience normal human emotions. I appreciated greatly McCarthy's depictions of his special perceptions of unified space and time and of himself as a radio receiver of sorts seeking universal messages. It feels like a gift, without reference to quantum physics advances at the times or getting labelled as psychotic. He is challenged to see things in a normal perspective or causal progression. Yet the trajectory of his life makes sense and is told plainly and clearly, without resort to "experimental writing" as typical of other post-modernist authors. No event covered in the tale appears to be arbitrary, as each experience covered resonates forward and backward in Serge's world view. I liked the approach, but I can understand that many readers may not feel the same about it.
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08/28 marked as: read

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