The Tesseract

The Tesseract

3.7 11
by Alex Garland
     
 

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An intricately woven, suspenseful novel of psychological and political intrigue, The Tesseract follows the interlocking fates of three sets of characters in the Philippines: gangsters in a chase through the streets of Manila; a middle-class mother putting her children to bed in the suburbs and remembering her first love; and a couple of street

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Overview

An intricately woven, suspenseful novel of psychological and political intrigue, The Tesseract follows the interlocking fates of three sets of characters in the Philippines: gangsters in a chase through the streets of Manila; a middle-class mother putting her children to bed in the suburbs and remembering her first love; and a couple of street kids and the wealthy psychiatrist who is studying their dreams. Alex Garland demonstrates the range of his extraordinary talents as a novelist in this national bestseller, a Chinese puzzle of a novel about three intersecting sets of characters in the Philippines.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"THE TESSERACT has the traits of a thriller, but it's also a love story, a character study, a portrait of life among Manila's street kids, even an experiment in narration...a feverish, affecting, altogether captivating story....What really makes THE TESSERACT so gripping is the author's dazzling performance as a storyteller—not the bloody climaxes per se but the innovative techniques and deft changes of pace with which they are related. This is one of those rare novels that can be read for thrills but also taken apart and examined the way a jeweler does a fine watch. Garland also lavishes his characters with quirks that ring true, outbursts of human oddity that transform a moment that most authors would rush past into something memorable...all but flawless, a tour de force of brilliant narration and psychological acuity." —The Washington Post

"Virtuosic" —The New York Times Book Review

"THE TESSERACT feels.... like a Quentin Tarantino or John Woo movie, seasoned with some Graham Greene.  It is as thoroughly assured a performance as T and just as violently entertaining.  Taut, nervous and often bloody, THE  TESSERACT is a more experimental work than The Beach: elliptical and Rashomon–like in structure, where The Beach  was linear, cinematic in its effects, where The Beach was more conventionally literary. . . .  Mr. Garland not only does a completely convincing job of sketching in these characters’ lives in a series of quick, deftly drawn strokes, but he also fluently cuts back and forth between their stories, building suspense the way a film editor does, even as he is tying his disparate heroes’ tales together with dozens of overlapping motifs. . . .  As he demonstrated in The Beach, Mr. Garland is a natural at orchestrating violent set pieces with deadpan panache, but he also proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives. . . . the novel’s suspense [has] a human cost and caculation...Garland is...persuasive a storyteller...gifted a writer...He has written a powerful if flawed novel, a novel that...reconfirms his prodigious and diverse talents.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review

“[C]omplex and intriguing...subtle fiction [that] has nothing to do with the higher math and a lot to do with good old-fashioned storytelling about big, old-fashioned themes—the mysteries of love and violence and death, the strange workings of fate. . . .  THE TESSERACT marks a significant departure from, and growth since, The Beach...Like a tesseract, it is composed of three dimensions that, in the end, inevitably imply a larger and more significant fourth. . .  The book is so cunningly constructed that you can’t discuss any of these three narratives in too much detail without giving away the connections. Suffice it to say that each story is delicately observed and ingeniously linked to the others. . . .  I’m fairly sure that this book, like its author, is the thing itself.”  —Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Observer

Elizabeth Schmidt
In The Tesseract, non sequiturs rule....To some extent, all the characters...are haunted by...events they can't see coming that change their lives completely...
The New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
...Elliptical and Rashomon-like in structure....Mr. Garland...proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives....a powerful if flawed novel, a novel that for all its lapses reconfirms Mr. Garland's prodigious and diverse talents.
The New York Times
Dan Jewel
...Garland's skill at creating tension keeps the novel driving forward with the force of a thriller.
People Magazine
New Yorker
Garland is a gifted storyteller whose use of language is reminiscent of Graham Greene's. His ambitious second novel is like the charm carried by one of its characters: at once consoling and intoxicatingly alien.
Deirdre Donahue
...[T]here are only two hackneyed phrases that fit The Tesseract: Interesting failure. Sophomore slump....[It] substitutes lots of self-conscious flourishes and posturing for a coherent plot and firmly rooted characters. Even the novel's obscure title annoys the reader.
USA Today
Brad Stone
The Tesseract is just an evening's read and seems less substantial than The Beach, but it exerts the same unsettling grip on your imagination.
Newsweek
Nick Meyer
Garland achieves a sort of narrative origami, whereby space and time are folded back on themselves to create a four-dimensional figure — the tesseract — making the book fascinating and somewhat maddening.
New York Magazine
Library Journal
After his best-selling The Beach, Garland visits the Philippines to track three sets of characters: gangsters, middle-class parents, and street kids.
The Missouri Review
Garland's second novel, following his riviting debut, The Beach, has convinced me that he is the best thirtyish writer in English today.
Kirkus Reviews
A pointlessly elaborate portrait of disparate lives coming together in the Philippines, by English novelist Garland (The Beach). At a certain point, obscurity grows more annoying than intriguing-when, for example, something seemingly complex stands revealed as not just simple but actually dull. This very simple story is complicated as much as possible in the telling-but for no apparent reason.

Don Pepe is a gangster in Manila. A half-breed Filipino with European pretensions, he controls various rackets connected with the shipping trade. He meets to discuss business with Sean, an Englishman who owns the freighter Karaboujan, now anchored in Manila's harbor. Sean's partner Alan was killed by Don Pepe's henchmen for refusing to pay protection money to Don Pepe. Sean is strapped for cash as the result of a bad insurance claim, and he tries to convince Don Pepe to allow him one free passage through the Philippines so that he can recoup his losses and avoid bankruptcy. Don Pepe refuses to yield; Sean has to flee for his life. He ends up shooting it out with Don Pepe's men in the house of Corazon, an old woman who is a complete stranger to him. Corazon, mother of Rosa and grandmother of Raphael and Lita, is killed in the crossfire in her own kitchen. Out of bullets, Sean tries to escape while using Rosa as a human shield, but she pleads with him to let her go and he does, after which he's shot dead. Raphael and Lita witness the killing of their grandmother and Sean. They are grateful to be alive, as is Rosa, although everyone is sorry about Corazon-even Don Pepe's gunman.

Tedious, convoluted, pompous. Garland's narration is so oblique that his story doesn't even begin to cohere untilthe very last chapter-which, it must be said, does little to justify the effort of reading him.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781573227742
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,456,525
Product dimensions:
7.96(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Alex Garland
...Mr. Garland seems...down to earth about his perceptions of why people buy his books. "Mainly, it's people who want a book to read on the tube." -- Interviewed in London by The New York Times, March 11, 1999
J.G. Ballard
Is Alex Garland the next Graham Greene? After The Tesseract, the question needs to be asked. There is a powerful narrative drive, exotic locations that unfold like a corrupt and mysterious flower, and a moody intelligence that holds everything together. -- Author of Cocaine Nights
Kazuo Ishiguro
A huge literary talent. -- Author of The Remains of the Day

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