The Birdcage Archives

Friday 29 October 2010

Tom McCarthy's "C,"

Hello Gentle Reader

C is for - Caul
- Chute
- Crash
- Call
- Communication
- and Carrefax
Serge Carrefax to be exact is our main character, and the readers ambassador in Tom McCarthy's 2010 Booker Prize Short Listed novel, "C." "C," was the critics favourite to win the Booker Prize of 2010, but was beaten out by another novel (Harold Jacobson's "The Finkler Question," to be exact). In some manner or another every reviewer and person who apparently reads the novel, says that the book "C," by Tom McCarthy is written in "High Modernism," with "Continental Philosophy," which for the "average," or "general," reader would only shrug and pay little attention to such terms.

One can certainly understand why some people would claim that the novel is written in "High Modernism." The only problem with saying such a term is that, the book is actually readable. Any person could probably pick up the book and read it -- whether or not the person actually get it is another aspect; but the book is quite reader friendly in its conversation(s) of characters, style of prose, and the beautifully painted scenes that Tom McCarthy can paint with his mind's eye paint brush with words, that one can almost certainly see every landscape depicted in the novel.

This talent of McCarthy's depiction of landscapes, is often used quite well. However reading about the landscapes, and the beauty and all sorts of other strange things, is also quite tedious after a while. But yet again, sometimes Tom McCarthy's darkly humours, and almost warped character Serge Carrefax, often gives us a taste of scenery depicted quite well, but also with a hint of philosophy.

Who could forget the scene in which Serge Carrefax is looking at a imprint in the grass, of a former colleague once laid. The imprint capturing the scene perfectly of his death.

"The other accident he doesn't see take place---only its aftermath. Beswick forgets to strap himself into his seat and fall out when his pilot loops the loop. He plunges three thousand feet and lands in a nearby field. A Beswick-shaped mark stays in the grass for weeks: head, torso, legs and outstretched arms.

"The Acid from his body," Stredman says as he and Serge stand above the patch one afternoon. "Stops new grass growing."

"It's a good likness," Serge says

"All his memories, and everything he ever thought about or did reduced to battery chemicals."

"Why not?" asks Serge. "It's what we are.""

Clearly that is not a conventional, way to show a point in a review -- but I am not a conventional review(er); and Tom McCarthy is not a conventional novelist. His novel is a book about one man’s life. A very intense and short life to be honest. If one wants to know how short the life of Serge Carrefax is, then they should consider it in this way: 1898 - 1922 -- are the years that the novel takes place.

But in three hundred and ten pages (or so) Tom McCarthy documents the life of Serge's brief wink of a life, with such detail, and wonder, and beauty and paints a life lived in full detail one can truly understand how such a brief life, is able to be extended and also wrapped up at three hundred and some pages.

Thinking back on the novel, Serge Carrefax's life was relatively cut up. However Tom McCarthy allows the novel to flow as if Serge went from point A (childhood) - Point B (adolescents/early adult hood) with great ease, not missing other parts of his life. It flows, naturally, and wonderfully. In many ways the novel flows like memory. How we as people only remember certain parts of our lives, yet it appears to flow rather naturally, when we think back on our lives.

It however does come to my attention that "C," by Tom McCarthy is written with many hidden layers, and often demands a lot of attention, to catch certain allusion. The one that I can think of most certainly at the moment is "Futurist Manifesto," by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Of course I have never read this manifesto and just recently heard about Marinetti -- so perhaps after re-reading the novel in the future along with the "Futurist Manifesto," by Marinetti, possibly certain parts of the story would become more clear to me.

Is Tom McCarthy's "C," a novel for everyone? Certainly not. Is any novel a novel for anyone though? Certainly not. However Tom McCarthy's style, prose, and greatness certainly are his own, and I quite enjoyed reading, this novel by Tom McCarthy. I would certainly read other novels by him personally. Would I recommend "C," by Tom McCarthy to others -- a difficult question. Myself personally, I would have to say that it would depend on the person. I would not recommend this novel to anyone, who is just willing to read a novel, without putting any thought into what they were reading or trying to "escape," into the novel, would not be someone I would recommend this novel to. Would I recommend this novel to a "serious," reader, who would perhaps be able to catch certain 'slight-of-hand,' tricks, certainly. Perhaps that reader would be able to get something more of it then I could. However I would still say this is a great book that I had enjoyed reading. I would not give that up for the world, either.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for Reading my Dear Patient Gentle Readers
and as always:
Stay Well Read


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