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The Tesseract

Garland, Alex

Published by Riverhead Books, 1999
ISBN 10: 1573221090 / ISBN 13: 9781573221092
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Bibliographic Details


Title: The Tesseract

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket

Edition: 1st Edition.

Description:

New York. 1999. Riverhead Books. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 275 pages. January 1999. hardcover. Jacket design by Marc J. Cohen. Signed by The Author. 1573221090. keywords: Literature England. inventory # 26286. FROM THE PUBLISHER - THE TESSERACT takes place in the Philippines and follows three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined in a deadly chase that is set in motion through a misunderstanding. Sean is an inexperienced British merchant seaman waiting to keep an appointment with a Filipino mafia lord and his henchmen in a seedy Manila hotel. Meanwhile, in the suburbs a mother puts her children to bed and remembers her first love on the backwater island where she grew up, and a wealthy psychologist studies the dreams of a couple of abandoned street kids, who are drawn into the wake of the gangsters’ chase. THE TESSERACT is a story of personal tragedies that occur for no comprehensible reason, and investigates the ways in which we explain them, whether through religion, myth, psychology, or science. It balances science against religion, and our wills against our fates, asking the elusive question of how we can make sense of events in a world where meaning lies beyond our grasp. Bookseller Inventory # 26286

About this title:

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Synopsis: Set in the Philippines, this Chinese puzzle of a novel, written by the author of "The Beach", spans three generations, following the stories of three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined.

Review: In The Tesseract, set in muggy, scary Manila, Alex Garland again proves himself the past master of the youth paranoia novel. His first novel, The Beach--a tale of Western tourists on a druggy Thai isle--was dubbed a Gen-X Lord of the Flies. It made him Britain's richest 28-year-old writer even before Leonardo DiCaprio starred in the movie version. Now Garland ups the literary ante with an intricate three-part crime-story structure that several critics have compared to Pulp Fiction (only without the jokes). It's hard-boiled yet lyrical, subtle yet simple. Garland has three sets of characters collide, as if in a devilishly devised model-train wreck involving real trains, and his Manila is more grittily realistic than his Thailand. The first protagonist is Sean, an English seafaring lad who's about to meet the gangster Don Pepe, who's upset because Sean's boss recently missed a protection payment. It's not just the tarmac-melting heat that accounts for Sean's sweaty state of mind. As Don Pepe's posse's footsteps get louder outside his room, Sean glimpses his face in the mirror "in a state of flux. Unable to resolve itself, like a cheap hologram or a bucket of snakes, the lips curled while the jaw relaxed.... Fear, Sean thought distantly. Rare that one got to see what it actually looked like." Garland's great gift is conveying such mental states with the economy and grace of a Muhammad Ali punch. One feels that Don Pepe is about to reach up from the book and do violence to the reader.

Next comes the entire, tensely compressed life story of Rosa, a rural beach beauty turned big-city physician. Rosa is tormented by memories of her first love at 16, a man who comes crashing back into her life. In the last section, Sean and Don Pepe's thugs literally crash into her life, along with the book's third star duo, tough street kids Cente and Totoy. The Tesseract's vivid images and breakneck chases make it unsurprising to learn that Garland started out as a comic-book author, though his second novel really bears comparison with Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers. --Tim Appelo

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