Ooh there is an hour long thing with Tom McCarthy talking about ARG on youtube. He always pops up doesn't he?
Tlooth, begins in a bizarre Siberian prison camp, where the inmates are divided according to their affiliation with obscure religious denominations (Americanist, Darbyist, Defective Baptist, and so on), and where baseball, dentistry, and plotting revenge against other inmates are the chief pastimes. A small group of inmates, including the narrator, plot their escape, which they carry out by constructing an ingenious getaway vehicle. After fleeing south and over the Himalayas, they split up; the later sections of the novel, which take place in various locales (chiefly Italy), are concerned with the narrator's attempts to track down and do away with another inmate, Evelyn Roak, who had been responsible for mutilating the narrator's fingers. Most of the major characters have sex-equivocal names, and it is only towards the end of the book that we are given some indication of whether they are actually male or female. As in The Conversions, there are numerous subplots that advance the main action only minimally.
At the outset of his first novel, The Conversions, the narrator is invited to an evening's social gathering at the home of a wealthy and powerful eccentric named Grent Wayl. During the course of the evening he is invited to take part in an elaborately staged party game, involving, among other things, a race between several small worms. The race having apparently been rigged by Wayl, the narrator is declared the victor and takes home his prize, an adze with curious designs, apparently of a ritual nature, engraved on it. Not long after the party, Wayl dies, and the bulk of his vast estate is left to whomever possesses the adze, providing that he or she can answer three riddling questions relating to its nature. The balance of the book is concerned with the narrator's attempts to answer the three questions, attempts that lead him through a series of digressions and stories-within-a-story, many of them quite diverting in themselves. The book has some superficial affinities with Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49; the reader, like the narrator, is never sure to what extent he has fallen victim to a hoax. Much of the material dealing with the ritual adze, and the underground cult that it is related to, borrows from Robert Graves's The White Goddess. Mathews's novel concludes with two appendices, one being in German.
i don't understand why everyone, from borges to corpsey, is suddenly taking it for granted that they're imaginary? i'm not imaginary. what is this hippie nonsense?
I liked it a lot. I think I even preferred the Conversions though. It's funny though, sometimes (well, sadly quite rarely, but sometimes) my girlfriend and I will read a book together. Either in silence and we just turn the page when the second person has got to the end of the one we're on, or occasionally we might take it in turns to read that way. And one time I suggested that our joint reading should be Conversions (as I'd read it before and remembered it as a fun little book) - anyway, bad choice, we had a massive argument by the end of the first paragraph, I persuaded her to read a bit further and by the end of the first page we'd almost had a fist fight... so that was that as far as reading that book went together. I guess I'd not realised how much some people are challenged by, or - let's be honest - it's probably better to say, how much a lot of people find writing like this really shit and annoying.tlooth is one of the maddest and funniest experiments. it's easy to forget among the game-playing that mathews and especially perec can be very dark writers