Tournament of Books 2015

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003



by Jim Crace

Strange Fiction

A review by Adrienne Miller

How disastrously fecund is Felix Dern (a.k.a. "Lix")? Every time he has sex, the woman gets pregnant. Could there be a more frightening idea?

Jim Crace's hypnotic eighth novel is in many ways more nightmarish than his brilliant National Book Critics Circle Award-winning 2000 novel Being Dead (which involves a double-murder, its lead-up and aftermath, and the subsequent bodily decomposition). Lix, a famous (and famously birth-marked) stage actor, has sired six children with six different women. His parental involvement with his children varies between nonexistent and sort of existent. The chapters, numbered from one to six (each number designating a child) recount the sexual adventure that yielded the offspring: his wife in a car on an otherwise lackluster anniversary, the nameless woman across the way whom Lix spied through his binoculars, the daunting swan-necked feminist.

As with Crace's other books, the universe Genesis inhabits is recognizable as our own, but slightly askew. (It's set in the City of Kisses, whose zoning restrictions are nothing if not Orwellian.) In Genesis, Crace illuminates the dark corners of unconsciousness and desire, proving yet again that he's one of the strangest, and most daring, writers of his generation.

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