Published by Knopf
Note: I read this book as part of my panelist duties for the Indie Lit Awards. This review in no way reflects the opinions of other panelists.
***Also, me-mer-me-mer-mer (that’s European for siren going off) – major plot points will be revealed, so read at your own risk.***
You know how I occasionally mention that I don’t like mayonnaise? I don’t like the taste, or the texture, or the smell, or even the thought of what it’s made of (not a fan of egg whites, either). Well, for me, this book is mayonnaise.
The style is not to my taste, I didn’t care for the story (or the lack thereof), the cover is vaguely creepy, and I’m so not into symbolism or post-modernism, which is apparently what this book is made of. Of course, many people love mayo, just as many people love this book. In both cases, I fail to see the appeal. In fact, by the time I got to the end of C, I was scratching my head, wondering what the point of it all was.
The best way I can think of to describe this book (other than as mayonnaise) is sex and drugs, but no rock and roll. Our main character, Serge Carrefax (C…get it?), does a lot of both (and not very attractively, either). And I’m sure he would’ve been into the rock and roll scene, had this book not been set in the early 1900s.
I struggled through the first 60 pages of the book, which describes the minutiae of Serge’s childhood. His mother is deaf and his father is an odd duck, who runs a school where he teaches deaf children to speak. Serge has a brilliant older sister that he adores. There is much talk of things I do not understand. Or even find interesting. At about page 50, there is a scene featuring the school pageant, which goes on and on and on. I gave up on the book, because the story was going nowhere, the pageant bored me to tears, and the writing was driving me batty. However, Ti told me it gets better (both the story and the writing) at about page 100, so I picked it back up and soldiered on.
And it’s true. The writing clears up, and I no longer felt like I was trudging through mud (well, there were a few relapses, but overall, it was way more readable after I was tortured with the pageant). Serge goes to war, which was mildly entertaining, has a few orgasmic experiences with drugs (and I’m being literal when I say orgasmic experiences) (also, there’s cocaine, which also starts with a C. Gee, isn’t that special?), becomes a prisoner of war, where he likes it when he’s assigned tunneling duties as it gives him privacy to jack off, and then returns home.
From there, he attends college, gets involved with a girl who likes to attend séances, does a heck of a lot of drugs, gets totally wasted and crashes dear old dad’s car.
Then he’s sent to Egypt, to do something involving radio communication (more C’s!). He has a final one-night stand in a tomb (yes, really) where he gets bit on the ankle (serves him right). Then he has bizarre dreams involving insects and incest. And then he dies.
And I wasn’t sorry, at all. Does this make me a bad person? If so, I think I can live with that.
I never did feel engaged by the story, or sympathetic towards the characters, or even impressed by the writing. And I know I’m being harsh, but honestly…mayonnaise.