5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: C (Paperback)
I have a very wide range of taste in literature - and this was a very different book. I have finished reading it and I have been left with the same feeling I get after looking at a Jackson Pollock painting(seriously)- there are patterns and colours and multiple structural layers within it - and it is impossible to take it all in - and therefore you concentrate on the overall impact - which is emotional as well as intellectual.
(Question - is it a spoiler to tell something if it is printed on the cover?)
As other reviewers point out, the book concerns the short and very intense life of Serge Carefax born at the end of the 19th centuary. It starts with his birth at a country house to a deaf mother (with an interest in mood altering drugs) and an eccentric inventor father who runs a school for the deaf. The family contains a rather brilliant but slightly disturbed elder sister Sophie who adds a very significant dimension to his childhood. The book looks at Serge at different times in his bizarre childhood, through a surreal health farm (reminiscent of Wellville), the horror of being a radio operator during the first world war (although he enjoyed it), a drug-fueled college period and an expedition to Egypt.
The book is very definitely dark and full of black humour. The writing is superb, but it is impossible to appreciate everything in one read - I think the book will be better at a second reading. So what strikes after a first reading is the patterns that are wound throughout it and the way they repeat and are pulled together in a fantastic workspace. The idea of a crowded space, full of the trace of transmissions from the very first one, a sense of connection, codes, patterns and repetition builds constantly through the book.
If you want a well formed story, or need to 'like' the characters in a novel, don't waste your time. But if you want to read a contemporary book that is challenging and leaves an overall and lasting impression, then this is to be recommended.