Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Author: Tom McCarthy
Number of pages: 320
Started: 17 September 2010
Finished: 26 September 2010
Dr. Learmont, newly appointed general practitioner for the districts of West Masedown and New Eliry, rocks and jolts on the front seat of a trap as it descends the lightly sloping path of Versoie House. He has sore buttocks: the seat's hard and uncushioned. His companion, Mr. Dean of Hudson and Dean Deliveries (Lydium and Environs Since 1868), doesn't seem to feel any discomfort. His glazed eyes stare vaguely ahead; his leathery hands, reins woven through their fingers, hover just above his knees.
The rattle of glass bottles and the fricative rasp of copper wire against more copper wire rise from the trap's back and, mixing with the click and shuffle of the horse's hooves on gravel, hang undisturbed about the still September air. Above the vehicle tall conifers rise straight and inert as columns. Higher, much further out, black birds whirr silently beneath a concave vault of sky. Between the doctor's legs are wedged a brown case and a black inhaling apparatus. In his hand he holds a yellow piece of paper. He's scrutinising this, perplexed, as best he can.
Read a longer extract here
"C" follows the short, intense life of Serge Carrefax, a man who - as his name suggests - surges into the electric modernity of the early twentieth century, transfixed by the technologies that will obliterate him. Born to the sound of one of the very earliest experimental wireless stations, Serge finds himself steeped in a weird world of transmissions, whose very air seems filled with cryptic and poetic signals of all kinds. When personal loss strikes him in his adolescence, this world takes on a darker and more morbid aspect. What follows is a stunning tour de force in which the eerily idyllic settings of pre-war Europe give way to the exhilarating flight-paths of the frontline aeroplane radio operator, then the prison camps of Germany, the drug-fuelled London of the roaring twenties and, finally, the ancient tombs of Egypt. Reminiscent of Bolano, Beckett and Pynchon, this is a remarkable novel - a compelling, sophisticated and sublimely imaginative book uncovering the hidden codes and dark rhythms that sustain life.
What I thought:
This is the third book on the current Booker Prize shortlist that I have read, and I have to confess that I was not a fan. I just couldn’t quite see the point of this book and it was a real chore to read it. I don’t know what it was that I found so unappealing, and perhaps if I had been reading it without the pressure of having to meet a deadline of reading all of the shortlist before the winner is announced, I might have enjoyed it more. But the book did nothing for me at all. This book is tipped to be the winner, so I am not sure that that tells you about me. Decide for yourself!