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Genesis: A Novel (Crace, Jim) Hardcover – November 15, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Crace, Jim
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (November 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374227306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374227302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,042,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The protean British writer, whose time and place settings have ranged from the Stone Age (The Gift of Stones) and 40 days in the Judean desert (Quarantine) to the past lives of two decomposing bodies in present-day England (Being Dead), here creates a world very much like ours but different in subtle ways calculated to unnerve the reader. The protagonist is an actor named Felix Dern, aka Lix, and the unnamed country in which he lives is a menacing place. The army and police have put down bank riots and quashed a popular uprising; the ancient medieval city, once called the City of Kisses, is zoned, with restrictions on travel. Yet Lix lives a charmed life. Despite the innate caution-approaching timidity-of his personality, he's had a brilliant career. Now middle-aged and embarked on his second marriage, he's drawn into a dangerous revolutionary plot by a former lover, the mother of one of his children. Lix's most vexing problem, revealed in the book's first sentence, is fecundity: "Every woman he dares to sleep with bears his child." The book's chapters are numbered from one to six to designate Lix's children, some of whom are unknown to him. Sex pervades his thoughts and the narrative, as Lix ruminates about sexual desire and infidelity. Mirroring his protagonist's detached personality, Crace's tone throughout is cool and nonjudgmental. His characters' foibles elicit witty aphorisms: "Chatter is the cheapest contraceptive"; "It isn't love that's blind, it's alcohol." The inescapable results of Lix's determination to avoid any kind of heroic behavior, countered by his inadvertent success at fathering new lives, create a slightly surreal atmosphere of simmering suspense. Though the effect is somewhat muted by the essentially one-note theme, in the end, the reader's realization that Lix is an exemplar of the common man (the narrative, indeed, is all about "love and love-making,... children, marriages and lives") is what gives the narrative its memorable metaphorical impact.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

Lix, an actor, is so virile that he impregnates every woman he beds; unfortunately, the story he inhabits is a sterile exercise. Lix's propagation problem—in the book's opening chapter, his sixth child is accidentally conceived on the front seat of a car—is the kind of premise that might have fuelled an amusing magic-realist novel. Crace's agenda, however, is to deglamorize the act of procreation, and to tutor his readers about the emotional dislocations that divide men and women even as their bodies conjoin. Lix's erotic life is no fun: his partners criticize his lovemaking skills and demand intimacy that he cannot provide. His sexual history is recounted not as a comic picaresque but as a pompous lecture, full of strained aphorisms ("It isn't love that's blind, it's alcohol" "Chatter is the cheapest contraceptive") and meandering vignettes about mismatched desire.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find Jim Crace's work to be up and down. Of his last three books, I think Being Dead and The Devil's Larder are both incredibly good books. On the other hand, I was rather disappointed with Quarantine. Here, I am sorry to say, is another disappointment.
Genesis is the story of a man, Felix Dern, who has produced a child with every woman with whom he's ever had sex. That amounts to six children, if we include the one who is yet a fetus at the top of the novel. And yet, Lix, as he is called, is a timid man despite his fame as an actor. How does he manage this?
It can't be because of his supposed fertility which appears a non-issue to me despite the fact that Crace keeps coming back to it. Lix doesn't cause a child every time he has sex (which would have been really interesting.) And he can't be afraid that every time he has a relationship with a woman he will have a child. He doesn't even know of his first child and his child with his first love-for-a-month, the fiery Freda, doesn't explain the years of abstinence that follows this break-up.
Does his nature come from the repression of this unnamed city in which he lives his life? It's hard to tell but it seems unlikely since his fame allows him a lot of freedom and travel to America. If his home is so bad why didn't he just stay in Hollywood?
When it comes right down to it, I couldn't fathom Lix at all and this ruined the book for me. Though Crace has an excellent prose style, the only place where this story really came alive for me was near the end where we got a glimpse at Lix through the eyes of his children. Perhaps that would have been a better book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Crace's "Genesis" novel almost works. It's a great premise. The book is constructed with 6 children, 6 conceptions; and you know from the beginning that you'll hear about each one. Some of the characters are entertaining such as the fiery revolutionary feminist Freda who insists on being on top. Her Cousin Mouetta also shows some personality and spunk. And Crace authors one of my favorite single sentences I've read in a novel on page 127, "She wanted the drama of the streets relocated in between the sheets." Doesn't that sound like it ought to be a line in a popular song?
Thematically, the main character, Lix, seems at a loss about how to father. That is perhaps the great paradox of the novel, that a man who excels at fertility is so completely lacking in fatherly commitment, love and understanding. In fact, we encounter just about everything from love, lust and lumpy gravy, except for that most exceptional consequence of romantic love, the family. Whereas real life family life is one of the most character-building experiences, in Lix we find a man who lives inside his stage personas, much as some men live most fully within their heads. Thus, "Genesis" for me was a titillating modern tragedy.
That said, the book meanders to a conclusion. By the time of Lix's 6th conception, we're about as bored with his sex life as he is. Therefore, I wound up asking myself, "Do I really care?" In the end, this was an enjoyable enough reading experience, hardly riveting or one that I could not have lived without. A definite maybe.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 GENESIS 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David P. Tilson on September 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment! As a big fan of Jim Crace (particularly Being Dead), it pains me to say it, but large tracts of this book are an author on autopilot. Let's take only a couple of examples: 1) the descriptions of the physical aspects of the city Lix and co inhabit, and 2) the, at times, totalatarian behavior of the "authorities". Both were (over) employed in his earlier novel Arcadia, and, to see them re-appear here after a gap of some years suggests an author running out of ideas (or filling in space). As Crace has rightly been applauded in the past as one of the most inventive modern British authors, let's hope this is a once-off.
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