C – Tom McCarthy


C is a 1960s-, modernist-style anti-novel steeped in philosophy. It follows Serge Carrefax, an encoder, through WWI.

☁ Opening in England at the turn of the twentieth century, C is the story of a boy named Serge Carrefax, whose father spends his time experimenting with wireless communication while running a school for deaf children. Serge grows up amid the noise and silence with his brilliant but troubled older sister, Sophie: an intense sibling relationship that stays with him as he heads off into an equally troubled larger world.

Over the following pages, Serge heads off to the war as a wireless operator in spotter planes over the front;, studies architecture; meets fraudulent spiritualists; and is sent to Egypt to help set up a communications network.

C is described an an anti novel, a book which avoids the usual character studies and dramatic plot twists in favour of pushing philosophical content, modernist literary techniques and metaphors concerning language, technology and transmission.

Whether readers will enjoy the book will depend on their fondness for something quite analytical or more readable. Suzy and Rachel both agreed this book was almost too clever for them. There was air of authority and mastery about it, but it was delivered with a sense that we, common readers, did not understand what was truly going on beneath the obvious story line. (It was true, we did not). Perhaps one to re-read in ten years time when our literary palates have developed further.

Published 2010
400 pages

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