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Six Hardcover – 4 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition - First Printing edition (4 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670881163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670881161
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,398,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"The celebrated Felix Dern", the protagonist of Jim Crace's Six, is an unfortunately fertile actor and singer. "Every woman he dares to sleep with bears his child"--from the older neighbour who took his virginity and Frieda, his love in radical student days, to his portly Catholic first wife Alicja and a vacuous, surgically enhanced costar with whom he had a one off tryst. "Lix" has, in fact, "never slept with anyone without--eventually--a pregnancy" occurring. And as the novel opens, his second wife Mouetta, has just become pregnant with what will be his sixth and, we are told, last child, (hence the title).

Reductively, the book could be described as a kind of "Lix: A Life and Loves", or, as it tells the story of each of his pollinations, "Lix: A Life of Life Making". However, this is not a book that yields easily to a reductive summary. Lix, who, symbolically, has a pronounced birthmark on his cheek, may play Don Juan on the stage but despite his fertility he is not actually a voracious sexual conquistador; timidity is a recurring character flaw. Crace's spare, meticulous dissection of Lix's life, delivered in understated, truly poetic prose, ultimately forms a haunting, and occasionally erotic, meditation on those eternal sexual conundrums: love, gender, power, fertility and desire.

Like his earlier work Arcadia, the setting here is an imaginary, contemporary city--known variously throughout the book as the City of Balconies, the City of Kisses and the City of Mathematical Truth. The topography is at once familiar yet unerringly strange. Lix and his partners orbit a cityscape of plush suburbs, restaurants and cafes but references, opaque and transparent, to riots, floods, political repression and economic instability gives this powerful novel about sex, lovemaking, marriage and children an eerily dystopian hue. --Travis Elborough


'Ingenious and beautifully written' Daily Telegraph Books of the Year 'A tender, erotic comedy set in a fictitious European city so intricately imagined that you itch to book a weekend break there' Independent 'Furiously frank and tender: no one has written a more original explanation of what men and women are fated to do to each other' Julie Myerson 'As a study in love, sex and relationships, Six is as involving and original as anything Crace has written' Literary Review --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By mfl VINE VOICE on 19 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Six is Jim Crace's eighth book. Is he a familiar name? Unlike Martin Amis, Ian McEwan or Graham Swift, it seems he has yet to graduate to the laudable heights of the universally recognised great British writer.
You sense where I'm going. If you've yet to treat yourself to Crace's work, do so at the first opportunity. He deserves it. Six is the most accomplished place to start.
It's almost a shame then that the marketing of this book centres on the first line. The trite sensationalist, " Every woman he dares to sleep with bears his child", for this is not what this remarkable book is all about. Lix, the main character, is not some super fertile, unfaithful, philandering womaniser, that such a line may suggest.
This is a book about life and love and the unerring difference of the sexes. It is a book about the trials of attraction, how love is, what love becomes and how men and women are intrinsically different in their determination of each. Yes Lix knows the moves and leaves his mark, yet it is the women who have the strong control and leave with the upper hand. He cannot bridge the gap between lust and love, between observing life and living it, between hunting and settling.
Throughout Crace introduces the backdrop of a fictitious city, the underlay of its inhabitants' emotional battle. The river bursting its banks and flooding the streets is a beautiful, symbolic and poetic chapter signalling the inevitability of the power of nature. There's the man-made, all powerful, old Eastern European style of political repression that dominates the early part of the book, that can be, or at least attempted to be, undone by the youthful exuberance of students uprising to riot. To a point. Either way the natural order and the way we are, wins.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "gavinrob2001" on 8 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
This was the first novel by Jim Crace that I've read, and I was sufficiently impressed to seek out more of his work and read the equally impressive 'Quarantine' shortly afterwards. The stand-out feature of both works is the truly exceptional quality of the writing.
'Six' opens by stating that "every woman he dares to sleep with bears his child". Despite accurately relating protagonist Felix Dern's sexual history, this opening may mislead as to the overall content and tenor of this work as Dern is not the Don Juan that he sometimes plays on stage, and indeed even curtails his sexual activity on account of his celebrity. Instead, 'Six' can be viewed as telling the stories of Felix Dern and his female partners by visiting their lives at junctures leading up to these six conceptions. Within the constraints of a fairly short novel, there is some development of the female characters, particularly bolshy, sexy lecturer Freda. Crace unfailingly sticks to structure as he provides interesting snapshots of these intersecting lives. Ultimately, I wanted to know more about these lives - and the lives of the offspring - although this would have called for a longer novel, and admittedly the sacrificing of the tight structure may have made a longer novel less satisfying.
Weaved into the narrative of 'Six' are numerous interesting and thought-provoking comments on issues bound up with life and love - including desire; lust; gender-based differences and the frailties of relationships. Although Dern's sexual liaisons are unswervingly heterosexual (perhaps surprisingly given the consequences of his fertility), Crace's observations still resonate with sexual expression and relationships outside these parameters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp on 7 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
SIX (or GENESIS) may not live up to Jim Crace's monumental peak of writing he reached with BEING DEAD, but I think it deserves much more examination than those who dismiss it as a work of Ego onanism. The very nature of the story of an Actor who struts the stage and movie screen but is shackled in his personal life by his inability to connect to the women with whom he finds himself is perhaps too obvious a metaphor for men today, but it is a well developed metaphorical journey none the less. The majority of the action takes place in a 'magical realism' atmosphere - The City of Kisses - which is besieged by bizarre police activities, odd floods, and bohemian eateries and bars that bounce us back and forth in time as well as place. Our Actor (Lix, to give him his name) is cursed with being hyperfertile, so much so that every women with whom he copulates becomes pregnant immediately. How Lix manages these various (six in number) affairs and marriages and the offspring that result from his curse is the line of story we follow - or try to. Were it not for the glorious word working such as 'Love is enacted by small things. Love is what you do with what you've got.' and 'No one's to blame, but passion is not intended to endure. The overture is short or else it's not the overture. Nor is marriage meant to be perfect. It has to toughen on its blemishes. It has to morph and change its shape and turn its insides out and move beyond the passion that is the architect. Falling in love is not being in love. Waiting for the perfect partner is self-sabotage.' then perhaps this book would not deserve our close attention. And I think it does.
When passages such as these are used for a moment of meditation, then SIX has a lot to say about how we are functioning in this discombobulated world.. And if Jim Crace does only that - makes us stop for a moment and observe the Human Comedy - then reading this book has its rewards. Let's see where he goes next.
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