Keyword(s): Literary fiction
Dates read: January 29 - February 06, 1997, Rating:
I spotted this in Wordsworth's in Harvard Square and was intrigued by the Pynchon cover blurb: " Arc d'X is classic Erickson — as daring, crazy, and passionate as any American writing since the Declaration of Independence." I asked around a bit and came home with a hearty recommendation from Richard Seltzer , whose extensive reading list (and considerable overlap with my favorites) lended authority, at least for me.
I still don't have it all quite figured out, but it is a well-written examination of the relationship between love and freedom. Erickson starts in Paris, with the relationship between Thomas (Jefferson, though never explicity given a last name) and his young female slave, and then leaps back and forth between two other time-locales: turn-of-the-millenium Berlin and an unspecified dystopian city (perhaps near L.A.) at the foot of an active volcano. Erickson's prose is razor-sharp, and his fictional universe is both complex and internally consistent. I was amused by the author casting himself as a character (a washed-up writer named Erickson), much like Richard Powers did in Galatea 2.2, though with a less "happy" ending.
I highly recommend this book to brave readers.