4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: C (Hardcover)
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I was looking forward to Tom McCarthy's "C" for a number of reasons: a glowing review in the New York Times; ecstatic praise for the author from Zadie Smith, a writer whose books I love; its "nomination" for the Man Booker Prize. All these combined to promise an exhilarating literary experience. Sadly, I was mistaken. "C" is described by its publishing house as "unusual" and an "outrageously original postmodern adventure." Personally, I found it to be self-consciously arch, convoluted and, worst of all, boring. And I'm not someone who shies away from "difficult" reading. Nobel winners Naguib Mahfouz and Jose Saramago are favorite authors, as are former Booker honorees Peter Carey, Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro; but McCarthy (who ended up not winning the Booker this year) is not in their league, at least in terms of providing an entertaining experience. He can certainly write (and overwrites at times), and he has a distinctly individual point of view. But for all its obsession with communication, "C" keeps the reader at a distance. It's as if McCarthy has said, "I'm doing this for me, you may like it, but if you don't, who cares. In any event, aren't I clever?" And maybe that type of single-minded egoism is what makes a great Artist. But I prefer writers whose attitude is more along the lines of "Come listen to this wonderful story I have to tell. I'm so excited to share it with you, I think you're going to love it." Great literature doesn't have to be impenetrable, which is a lesson McCarthy could learn. But his style is his style, and who am I to suggest he alter it, particularly as it's made him the flavor of the month? I just don't care for the bitter aftertaste.