Jenny Turner writes:
C is organised to look a bit like a realist Bildungsroman, the life and impressions of one young man: he even gets born with a caul on him, as David Copperfield did. Serge, however, attracts no sympathy or empathy or whatever from his creator: he’s a convergence, or rather an area of concentration, where ideas, images, words, preoccupations gather and regroup. The book is split into four main sections: the Versoie childhood idyll; Serge’s wartime adventures, flying as an observer over enemy lines; postwar lost-generation London, an apathetic assemblage of sex and drugs and the paranormal, culminating (how else?) in an ecstatic car crash; and then Alexandria, ‘the great hub of the world’, laying the foundations of ‘the (still largely prospective) Empire Wireless Chain’, an imperial broadcasting organisation with obvious similarities to the BBC. The novel thus spans the years 1898-1922, the emergent years of global electronic communication, and – not coincidentally – of Modernism in literature and art.