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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

The Tesseract

by

The Tesseract Cover

ISBN13: 9781573227742
ISBN10: 1573227749
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Excerpt

Chapter One
Black Dog

There was no bright color in the room.

Outside, there was plenty. Through the bars of the window, Sean could see sunlight on drifting litter and flashes of foliage in the narrow gaps between squatter shacks. But inside, nothing. Beige and khaki, faded by age, muted by the hopelessly dim lamps that sat on each side of his bed.

"Stains," said Sean under his breath. It was something that the hotel room had in common with the street two stories below. In both places, there wasn't a single surface without some kind of grubby scar; everything marked by rain or dust, smoke, the overspill from the open sewers, the open fires that burned on the pavement. And blood. There was blood on the bedsheets. The spatter had paled from a few hard scrubs, but it was still rustily recognizable for what it was.

"Heat."

The other thing that his room shared with the city. Oozing out from the sun, heat like molasses. Once it touched you, you were stuck with it.

It had touched Sean that afternoon as he sat on Manila Bay's low harbor wall, looking out at the cargo ships and their fat anchor chains. Up to then he'd been protected by the reassuring air-con of an Ermita McDonald's. He'd gone there for breakfast, around ten A.M., with a copy of AsiaWeek rolled in his fist. At eleven-fifteen he'd stood up to leave and walked toward the exit, where the blue-uniformed McDonald's security guard had obligingly lowered his stockless shotgun and held the door open. Or obligingly held the door open and lowered his stockless shotgun. Either way, one blast of the scorched air and Sean had spun on his heels and marched back inside.

But cool as it was in McDonald's, after a couple of hours Sean could feel the edges of his mind starting to fray. It wasn't the obsessive wiping and washing and ashtray removing so much as the sprawling children's party that had commandeered half the seating area. Overweight rich kids with sulky faces and stripy sailor shirts, shouting at their nannies. No more than eight or nine, most of them, and already groomed for a life in politics. Why did this tubby elite choose to celebrate in a hamburger joint, Sean had wondered as he burst a balloon that had been bounced into his face. The sound made a dozen adult heads turn, and had one of the minders reaching under his barong tagalog to the bulge in his waistband. So, time to go.

Armed with a milkshake, Sean had left the McDonald's and walked to the waterfront, where he'd hoped he might kill time in the company of a cool sea breeze. But there was no cool sea breeze. There was an executive-bathroom hand-drier blowing down his neck. The milkshake had turned to chocolate soup before it was even a quarter finished, the bench he'd chosen was like leaning against an oven door, and the sparse canopies of the palm trees had offered nothing more than a rumor of shade.

Yet somehow, Sean had managed to stick it out until four. He couldn't remember much about how the time had passed; he was simply glad that it had. Ships and water were good for distracting a head that needed to be distracted. Good for a blink and a mild frown, and a glance at a watch that said half an hour had swept by. Sean's only clear memory of the afternoon was standing on the harbor wall and looking down at the beached jellyfish and acres of floating refuse. Like little islands, he'd thought, watching the polystyrene chips and plastic bags that bobbed in the swell. The two archipelagos beneath me. One too big to think about, and the other too big to see.

Back in his room, some of the wetter stains on the street began to glow red as the sun dropped from the sky. Dropped, because the sun didn't sink in these parts. At six-fifteen, the elastic that kept it suspended started to stretch, and at six-thirty the elastic snapped. Then you had just ten minutes as the orange ellipse plummeted out of view, and the next thing you knew it was night. You had to watch out for that in Manila. Ten minutes to catch a cab to the right side of town if you were on the wrong side.

"Like now, for example," Sean murmured as the red puddles blackened and disappeared. Miles from Ermita or any place he knew, holed up in a hotel that didn't know it was a hotel, or had forgotten.

No other guests. No air-con or even a fan. No lobby. Just a chair and a desk and a man downstairs, with his T-shirt always rolled up to his chest and a belly like a brown boulder. A man who usually had a sweat-soaked cigarette tucked between his right ear and the stubble of his shaved head. A man who kept one hand permanently out of view and never returned Sean's smile, simply slid his key toward him with a flick of the fingers.

What sort of hotel had no other guests? Walking down the corridor, through flickering pools of light where there were bulbs instead of hanging wires, Sean had noticed the quiet with growing confusion. He'd also seen open doors, and through them, rooms without beds. Sometimes rooms without walls. Only a few wooden slats, the guts of the walls, or the bones. And past the bones, the neighboring room, equally bare and broken.

Everything weird was the bottom line, and Sean had reached it quickly. Within an hour of his arrival, everything weird; every corner, every noise, every object.

The telephone, sitting on his arthritic bedside table. It didn't work. Of course it didn't work. If the hotel management weren't bothered about missing walls, they were unlikely to care about telephones. But whether it worked or not, did it have to be so mysteriously burned? Cigarette burns, and not from carelessly held butts. These were in patterns, lines and curls. These were the results of someone practicing their torturing skills. Sean had known it as surely as he'd known that the line would be dead. Known it, but refused to accept it until he'd spent five minutes listening to the utter lack of dial tone, pushing the receiver button and jiggling the base in the hope of provoking a little static.

Sean had needed three temazepam to get to sleep that first night. And he'd read over the address he'd been given as compulsively as he'd smoked, examining the bit of paper for anything resembling an ambiguity. Screwing up his eyes, Sean had tried to read Alejandro Street as Alejandra Street, or Hotel Patay as Hotel Ratay. He'd tried even after the sleeping pills had dissolved his focus and his lips were too numb to pull on a cigarette. He'd tried in his sleep, his dream a liquid continuation of the preceding hours.

So difficult to believe he was in the right place. Patay being patay, difficult to believe. But he was in the right place. The next morning, Sean discovered that a note had been left at reception. Don Pepe's elaborate handwriting, confirming their meeting at eight o'clock the coming night. A meeting that was now exactly sixty-eight minutes away, assuming the mestizo arrived on time.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Clyderat, December 29, 2013 (view all comments by Clyderat)
In his followup to "The Beach", Alex Garland deftly weaves together the seemingly disconnected lives of a group of people living in Manila. The narrative jumps back and forth through time and covers a broad cross-section of Filipino life that includes Manila street kids, barrio residents from the provinces, and the wealthy class of the city. Garland fits it all in with a taut writing style that makes the action move quickly.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781573227742
Author:
Garland, Alex
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Philippines
Subject:
Good and evil
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Religion and science
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Merchant mariners.
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Popular Fiction-Suspense
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
January 1, 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
7.98x5.16x.75 in. .54 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Tesseract Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$1.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781573227742 Reviews:
"Review" by , "What really makes The Tesseract so gripping is the author's dazzling performance as a storyteller — not the bloody climaxes per se but the innovative techniques and deft changes of pace with which they are related....[A]ll but flawless, a tour de force of brilliant narration and psychological acuity."
"Review" by , "[The Tesseract] feels...like a Quentin Tarantino or John Woo movie, seasoned with some Graham Greene. It is as thoroughly assured a performance as The Beach and just as violently entertaining....Mr. Garland is a natural at orchestrating violent set pieces with deadpan panache, but he also proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives....[The novel] reconfirms his prodigious and diverse talents."
"Review" by , "Although Garland's allusions to super-symmetry and tesseracts are far-fetched, the reader will come away impressed by his sense of place and his unique storytelling, which combines a brisk, complex plot with an ability to get into the souls and skins of people."
"Review" by , "[P]ointlessly elaborate....This very simple story is complicated as much as possible in the telling — but for no apparent reason....Tedious, convoluted, pompous. Garland's narration is so oblique that his story doesn't even begin to cohere until the very last chapter — which, it must be said, does little to justify the effort of reading him."
"Review" by , "[T]hese four stories...make up the dimensions of the 'tesseract' (a four-dimensional analogue of a cube), which itself unravels as the stories and characters converge in a shocking ending. This is one of the most structurally complex noir novels ever written and perhaps the only one ever set in the Philippines."
"Review" by , "The Tesseract is just an evening's read and seems less substantial than The Beach, but it exerts the same unsettling grip on your imagination."
"Review" by , "Garland is a gifted storyteller whose use of language is reminiscent of Graham Greene's. His ambitious second novel is like the charm carried by one of its characters: at once consoling and intoxicatingly alien."
"Review" by , "Riveting....The Tesseract offers myriad secret pleasures beyond its seemingly plot-driven narrative of intrigue in the streets of Manila."
"Review" by , "[T]here are only two hackneyed phrases that fit The Tesseract: Interesting failure. Sophomore slump....[It] substitutes lots of self-conscious flourishes and posturing for a coherent plot and firmly rooted characters. Even the novel's obscure title annoys the reader."
"Review" by , "Garland achieves a sort of narrative origami, whereby space and time are folded back on themselves to create a four-dimensional figure — the tesseract — making the book fascinating and somewhat maddening."
"Review" by , "[I]ntriguing and intricate....Fast-paced, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this is top-drawer fiction and highly recommended..."
"Review" by , "Garland's second novel, following his riviting debut, The Beach, has convinced me that he is the best thirtyish writer in English today."
"Synopsis" by ,

An intricately woven, suspenseful novel of psychological and political intrigue, The Tesseract follows the interlocking fates of three sets of characters in the Philippines: gangsters in a chase through the streets of Manila; a middle-class mother putting her children to bed in the suburbs and remembering her first love; and a couple of street kids and the wealthy psychiatrist who is studying their dreams. Alex Garland demonstrates the range of his extraordinary talents as a novelist in this national bestseller, a Chinese puzzle of a novel about three intersecting sets of characters in the Philippines.

"Synopsis" by , Set in the Philippines, this Chinese puzzle of a novel, written by the author of "The Beach, " spans three generations, following the stories of three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined.
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