Static, deep silence, and the sound of thought waves wind and rush through Serge Carrefax. A boy raised on an English estate where his radio-obsessed father ran a school for the deaf, Serge watches his teenage sister Sophie die, serves as a radio operator during World War I, becomes a POW, escapes and joins an underground intelligence network called the Empire Wireless Chain, sneaks into Egypt, and gets hooked on cocaine.
In English novelist Tom McCarthys new novel, C, the enigmas are many. And perhaps the most perplexing is the novels title. Maybe it refers to Carrefax. Or maybe its shorthand for the books many sections Caul, Chute, Crash, and Call. Or maybe the title points toward Cairo or coke. Then again, a character named Pacorie tells Serge: Surtout, the C: the C is everywhere.
The sea? asks Serge.
The letter: C.
Carbon: basic element of life.
Be there this Friday at 7 p.m. when McCarthy unravels certain parts of C and tightens others at Books & Books.
Fri., Sept. 17, 7 p.m., 2010