I wrote about Lev Grossman’s The Magicians here.
The next piece of fiction in Grossman’s catalogue (all of which, in honor of the Bobs, I do indeed celebrate) is Codex. It’s a book about puzzles and books=within-books, and all that fun stuff, and it has a couple of interesting subtexts about English majors, games, and sex with medievalist grad students. My notes:
- As much as I love reading books about puzzles, I don’t always enjoy them myself. And yet Poe’s racist The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is a novel that I find fascinating for its cryptography, and I used to spend time fascinated in the break room while our resident misanthropes discussed the latest encryption algorithm that they had come up with. Maybe I do like puzzles.
- The obsession with (and losing time to) the game was a cool addition, since games at their best represent that same fascination with puzzles. While else play Carcassone, fer gawd’s sake?
- I always feel a bit of a fuck you from Grossman to Wall Street types making lots of money…his protagonist pretty much makes all the money he can possibly want, despite being an English major.
Grossman’s very smart, and the care he takes in shaping some of the characters and the care that medievalists give to their work is obvious, and yet in the end I didn’t find this as monumental as I expected. I wonder if as a reader I’m expecting grand attempts to explain Gibson’s it every time, and novels that are interesting, engaging, and yet not all that interested in grand narratives don’t move me like they should…