Description from Amazon:
The story begins on a train held up by a storm. The man, called C., is on a journey into an unknown frontier. He finds a pill in his pocket, swallows it, and a hallucination begins. In the next scene, C. has a discussion with a prostitute. She asks him about his hand, which is missing two fingers, and he replies evasively. Next, the story takes up the “Clerk”, as C. the child is called. Ignoring his mother’s call, Clerk stands over the crib of the baby who died, lost in dreams of absolute liberation. He meets the Bawa, who is tied to Clerk in a way he never comes to understand. Gradually, C.’s emotional origins are coming into focus. As the chapters accumulate, piecing together a trauma that created this older man, trapped in a city that reflects his own sense of isolation. However, as C. has begun to thaw, to become conscious of his monochromatic world, he is confronted with the stranger of himself. He begins to search of salvaging himself. In an urban montage of dwarfs, prostitutes, pimps, and illustrious providers of goods of dubious legality, he secures pills and papers and keys to his liberation. He stumbles upon the “City of a Hundred Gibbets”, a place of hidden curses and gold. At last, from the embrace of “gray wings”, C. reaches out to the last angel who might save him. After the fashion of a Native American conception of storytelling, the story of Clerk, or “C.” is unfolds with interrelated story cycles rather than chronologically.
I’ve been waiting to write this review because when I finished the book, I was still so flabbergasted that I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Well, I can’t wait any longer, because I don’t want details of the book to slip away…and I’m still not sure what to say.
This book was WEIRD. But not necessarily in a bad way. The main character is C, sometimes also known as “Clerk” or “Citizen.” I don’t think the story is set in a world that we live in now, but possibly a future Earth. It’s hard to know because the descriptions of the world are only his own thought and interpretations. It could just as easily be set in some bitter person’s interpretation of our world as it is.
C passes through different experiences, conversations and hallucinations in this book that aren’t necessarily in chronological order. You have to pay attention to details to be able to keep up, and even then I was never totally sure that I knew what was going on. That might attract some people and might be a turn off for others. However, it does create a very distinct (and dark) impression of the world that stays with you after you have finished the book.
This isn’t a good book for people who read purely for entertainment, because it isn’t entertaining. But if you love to read because you love the way sentences are structured, you adore graphic and unique descriptions, and you like to get lost in the artistic flow of words, then you’ll really like this book. It is written in beautiful language, with stark descriptions that put you right in the mind of the protagonist.
It lost a star because this book will only be attractive to a very select audience, and the plot is hard to follow. I’m still not entirely sure what the plot was, but I know that at the end of the book I had a strange feeling that I had learned something, so I’m okay with that. I recommend reading an excerpt before you buy this book to make sure the writing style is something you will enjoy.