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 [McCarthy] 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.
The New York Times
…C moves in circuits, forever closing in on its topics: radio, World War I, drugs, Egyptology, seances, sisters, spas and silkworms, to name a few. McCarthy's genius comes in convincing his reader of the connections between these distant planets…In creating a work that recycles itself and our culture, McCarthy has produced something truly original.
The Washington Post
McCarthy’s third novel hopscotches between a marvelously diverse chain of times and places—from the British countryside to Egypt, from the 1920s to the turn of the 21st century. It’s an overstuffed historical novel that is also an experimental attempt at favoring form over content, which raises the inevitable question: how does an audiobook reader do justice to a book that is simultaneously a story and a story about the telling of stories? The process is maddeningly tricky, but Stephan Hoye acquits himself well. The natural reserve of Hoye’s reading maintains a certain distance from McCarthy’s narrative—a distance that takes on increasing weight as the novel snakes in sidelong fashion toward its metafictional climax. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, July 26). (Sept.)
"Recommended for those who...are devoted to Thomas Pynchon's brand of maximalism." Library Journal
FC is for "Carbon: basic element of life," Serge is told near the end of McCarthy's (Remainder) latest; "the C is everywhere." Seeking to illuminate life at its most basic, the novel begins with Serge's birth at the turn of the last century, then follows him to architecture school, the military (he serves during World War I), and a civil service job in Egypt. His gifted sister, with whom he has a questionable relationship, commits suicide. His genius father is obsessed with teaching deaf children and inventing new methods of communication in his private laboratory (though he rarely communicates with family). But Serge is not a genius. This seems to be McCarthy's point—life and communication flow all around Serge, not in him; drugs, women, and war provide only brief bursts of ecstasy, not the "basic elements" necessary for life. McCarthy's attention to the tiny bits of matter around the story (minutiae) heightens Serge's menial existence. VERDICT Recommended for those who read extensively in literary fiction or are devoted to Thomas Pynchon's brand of maximalism. (Though be warned: C is not as entertaining as Pynchon's works.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/10.]—Stephen Morrow, Ohio Univ., Athens