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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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C

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C Cover

ISBN13: 9780307593337
ISBN10: 0307593339
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

This novel reads like intercepted radio transmissions from the first two decades of the 20th century: a looping cacophony of coffins, cabaret, cocaine, and cryptology. Serge Carrefax hunts for meaning in minutiae and for secret messages from his dead sister, his journey carrying him to a multitude of locales: the mansion where he spent his childhood, a German spa, the trenches of the First World War, Soho séances, and Egyptian tombs. McCarthy betrays the truth that life can hold moments of flickering significance, even if they're hidden in a deluge of patternless data and doggy-style sexual encounters.
Recommended by Mark Savage, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A brilliant epochal saga from the acclaimed author of Remainder (“One of the great English novels of the past ten years” — Zadie Smith), C takes place in the early years of the twentieth century and ranges from western England to Europe to North Africa.

Serge Carrefax spends his childhood at Versoie House, where his father teaches deaf children to speak when he’s not experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Sophie, Serge’s sister and only connection to the world at large, takes outrageous liberties with Serge’s young body — which may explain the unusual sexual predilections that haunt him for the rest of his life. After recuperating from a mysterious illness at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator. C culminates in a bizarre scene in an Egyptian catacomb where all Serge's paths and relationships at last converge.

Tom McCarthy's mesmerizing, often hilarious accomplishment effortlessly blends the generational breadth of Ian McEwan with the postmodern wit of Thomas Pynchon and marks a writer rapidly becoming one of the most significant and original voices of his generation.

Review:

"A marvelously inventive novel, swept along by the sheer energy of its prose." Booklist

Review:

"In creating a work that recycles itself and our culture, McCarthy has produced something truly original." Washington Post

Review:

"[McCarthy] fuses a Pynchonesque revelry in signs and codes with the lush psychedelics of William Burroughs to create an intellectually provocative novel that unfurls like a brooding, phosphorescent dream." New York Times

Review:

"Remarkable not for its austerity but for its unlikely, panoramic ambition....C is a bird so rare as to seem oxymoronic: an avant-garde epic, the first I can think of since Ulysses." Harper's Magazine

Review:

"With C, Tom McCarthy has written an avant-garde masterpiece — a sprawling cryptogram — in the guise of an epic, coming-of-age period piece....C is coming-of-age as philosophy, philosophy as fiction, fiction as 'dummy-chamber' ('the real thing's beyond') — the novel as encrypted code for life." The Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

Serge Carrefax spends his childhood at Versoie House, where his father teaches deaf children to speak when he's not experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Sophie, Serge's sister and only connection to the world at large, takes outrageous liberties with Serge's young body — which may explain the unusual sexual predilections that haunt him for the rest of his life.

Synopsis:

C has been shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize.

The acclaimed author of Remainder, which Zadie Smith hailed as “one of the great English novels of the past ten years,”gives us his most spectacularly inventive novel yet.

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.

After a fling with a nurse at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator for reconnaissance planes. When his plane is shot down, Serge is taken to a German prison camp, from which he escapes. Back in London, hes recruited for a mission to Cairo on behalf of the shadowy Empire Wireless Chain. All of which eventually carries Serge to a fitful—and perhaps fateful—climax at the bottom of an Egyptian tomb . . .

Only a writer like Tom McCarthy could pull off a story with this effortless historical breadth, psychological insight, and postmodern originality.

About the Author

Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and lives in London. He is known in the art world for the reports, manifestos, and media interventions he has made as general secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network. His first novel was Remainder, and, in 2006, he published Tintin and the Secret of Literature.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

EdwardjK, January 25, 2011 (view all comments by EdwardjK)
This has to be the strangest book I have ever read.

I read about 20 pages a day and found myself half-way through the book and still not understanding the storyline. Since I invested so much time in it, I kept going until reaching the end. Ok, it ended and I am still not sure I get it.

After finishing the book a few days ago, I still have no feeling about it. If someone asked me what I thought about the book, all I can say is "I read it", but I still have no idea what I read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
Michael B Padrick, January 12, 2011 (view all comments by Michael B Padrick)
One of my favourite books of the past year, C is a strangely-engrossing tale in which the main character serves primarily as a commentary about the first quarter of the 20th Century, the emergence of technology, and our reliance upon it. Despite these themes - or because of them - the book will grab you from the beginning and never let you go. The comments and acclaims re McCarthy's novel being a challenge to the form itself are entirely justified. A very, very good read.
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(5 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
smithersthree, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by smithersthree)
Not only beautifully written, but an important book, one of the few I have read in a long time. C advances the literary form, opening up new possibilities and challenging the stale paradigms that have trapped the contemporary "Novel" for far too long.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307593337
Author:
McCarthy, Tom
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Technology
Subject:
Self-actualization (psychology)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20100907
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.52x6.64x1.23 in. 1.32 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

C Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307593337 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This novel reads like intercepted radio transmissions from the first two decades of the 20th century: a looping cacophony of coffins, cabaret, cocaine, and cryptology. Serge Carrefax hunts for meaning in minutiae and for secret messages from his dead sister, his journey carrying him to a multitude of locales: the mansion where he spent his childhood, a German spa, the trenches of the First World War, Soho séances, and Egyptian tombs. McCarthy betrays the truth that life can hold moments of flickering significance, even if they're hidden in a deluge of patternless data and doggy-style sexual encounters.

"Review" by , "A marvelously inventive novel, swept along by the sheer energy of its prose."
"Review" by , "In creating a work that recycles itself and our culture, McCarthy has produced something truly original."
"Review" by , "[McCarthy] fuses a Pynchonesque revelry in signs and codes with the lush psychedelics of William Burroughs to create an intellectually provocative novel that unfurls like a brooding, phosphorescent dream."
"Review" by , "Remarkable not for its austerity but for its unlikely, panoramic ambition....C is a bird so rare as to seem oxymoronic: an avant-garde epic, the first I can think of since Ulysses."
"Review" by , "With C, Tom McCarthy has written an avant-garde masterpiece — a sprawling cryptogram — in the guise of an epic, coming-of-age period piece....C is coming-of-age as philosophy, philosophy as fiction, fiction as 'dummy-chamber' ('the real thing's beyond') — the novel as encrypted code for life."
"Synopsis" by , Serge Carrefax spends his childhood at Versoie House, where his father teaches deaf children to speak when he's not experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Sophie, Serge's sister and only connection to the world at large, takes outrageous liberties with Serge's young body — which may explain the unusual sexual predilections that haunt him for the rest of his life.
"Synopsis" by , C has been shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize.

The acclaimed author of Remainder, which Zadie Smith hailed as “one of the great English novels of the past ten years,”gives us his most spectacularly inventive novel yet.

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.

After a fling with a nurse at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator for reconnaissance planes. When his plane is shot down, Serge is taken to a German prison camp, from which he escapes. Back in London, hes recruited for a mission to Cairo on behalf of the shadowy Empire Wireless Chain. All of which eventually carries Serge to a fitful—and perhaps fateful—climax at the bottom of an Egyptian tomb . . .

Only a writer like Tom McCarthy could pull off a story with this effortless historical breadth, psychological insight, and postmodern originality.

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