The Weblog

Home for the heteronomous

Book Club

I’ve been a slouch on the first book, but I promise to step it up for Tom McCarty’s C, coming to summer book club at The Weblog soon.

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June 27, 2015 Posted by | boredom | 5 Comments

The Kitsch Spectrum

The swiftly dawning realization in the first few pages of The Flame Alphabet that the narrator is about to abandon his child is powerful to the point of verging on kitsch. I had two simultaneous reactions to it.

The first was a straightforward emotional reaction. Reading as a relatively new father, it struck me as unbearably, chokingly sad, triggering the same feeling I get from catastrophizing about my daughter.

The second was in a more familiar mode for me. Reading as a critical reader (or as a jerk, take your pick) it struck me as slightly de trop. Dead babies, man, to steal from Martin Amis. I have a similar feeling about the movie Gravity, although family tragedy makes more native sense in a family horror story than in a space adventure. But there’s still a level on which it works and works hard. (I stopped discounting my sympathetic reaction to Gravity after talking to a friend who had lost a child and admired the movie.)

At the same time, the book is also an extended riff on how annoying teenagers are (with a Jewish girl teen at the center). Take my daughter… please!

June 27, 2015 Posted by | The Flame Alphabet | 4 Comments

Our Experimental Summer II: Reading Schedule (‘Shedule”) for Tom McCarthy’s C

Hello fellow heteronomists and readers of hard books.  Officially we finished Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet last Friday, but we have given ourselves an extra week for those who needed to catch up to do so, and I at least will still be reading your posts, and comments on my post, with great enthusiasm, like the friends and family of a marathon runner who stick around the finish line even if the professional runners have crossed some time ago.

We said we thought it would take us four weeks to read our next book Tom McCarthy’s C.  I gather that, as with Marcus, an earlier book of McCarthy’s was praised as sheer experimentalism, and then this one was praised as being an attempt to marshal certain avant-garde tendencies to help tell a more traditional story.  As i write you this, that is absolutely all I know about McCarthy, except that he writes out of Great Britain, hence the proper pronunciation in the title of this post.

We said four weeks and the book is in four parts, but inconveniently for us, since it’s best to do a little less than exactly 1/4 of a book for the first week as we acclimatize ourselves.  Hence and ergo this is what we should be aiming to read and by which date:

Friday July 3: pp 1-78 (chs. 1-4)

Friday July 10: pp. 79-171 (chs. 5-7)

Friday July 17: pp.172-297 (chs. 8-10, i.e., through Part Three)

Friday July 24: finish

C you next Friday–  (ha ha c what I just did there?)

June 27, 2015 Posted by | C, The Flame Alphabet | 1 Comment