Code World

From The New York Times:

Book There are many stories Tom McCarthy chooses not to tell in “C,” his tour de force new novel encompassing the short life of one Serge Carrefax, born at the turn of the 20th century on a rural English estate. Serge’s father, a manic tinkerer with early wireless technology, runs a school for the deaf but seems oblivious to his own deaf wife, Serge’s mother, who’s so blinkered on opium (supplied by a mute gardener who grows the poppies himself) that she nearly lets Serge drown in a creek at age 2. Serge’s beloved older sister, Sophie, becomes sexually involved with a friend of their father’s and winds up committing suicide at 17 — possibly after having an abortion. Serge’s relationship to Sophie is preternaturally close, with incestuous overtones, and her death severs his only real human connection. But these dramas are merely suggested, their shadowy outlines ignored, sublimated or flat-out denied by those involved; Sophie’s self-poisoning is deemed an accident.

McCarthy, author of the ingenious 2006 novel “Remainder,” withstands the temptations of emotional plotting and holds out instead for something bigger, deeper, more universal and elemental. “C” is a rigorous inquiry into the meaning of meaning: our need to find it in the world around us and communicate it to one another; our methods for doing so; the hubs and networks and skeins of interaction that result. Gone is the minimalist restraint he employed in “Remainder”; here, he fuses a Pynchonesque revelry in signs and codes with the lush psychedelics of William Burroughs to create an intellectually provocative novel that unfurls like a brooding, phosphorescent dream.

More here.