by Tom McCarthy
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 21st September 2011"C" is an account of the short and intense life of the fictional Serge Carrefax, born at the beginning of the twentieth century at the same time as wireless communication crackled into existence. His early years are spent on his parents' estate - his father runs a school for the deaf, his mother manages a silk weaving enterprise, his eccentric older sister conducts chemistry experiments, while Serge himself listens to wireless transmissions and tries to make sense of the cryptic signs and signals he encounters.
From there he becomes an observer in early first World War aircraft (before being captured by the Germans and waiting out in the war in POW camps); as an architecture student (and drug-addict) he experiences London of the Roaring Twenties; and finally (as a British civil servant) he finds himself in the tombs of Egypt.
I did very much enjoy reading "C", although it's not clear to me whether Serge's story really amounts to anything. As told the distinct episodes of his life seem to stand alone, and like Serge while we as readers might try to understand the events that befall him in the end it feels like very little is really explained. But maybe that's the point - it's perhaps less a narrative, and more an exploration of the worlds that Serge finds himself in (and his reactions to them). "C" is still immensely engaging and memorable (for me, particularly the section about his time in the war), and I'd definitely recommend it.
Finished on 6th September 2016