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Joseph McElroy: Plus

Plus is McElroy’s smallest novel – barely more than 200 pages – but that does not make it any easier for us to read. It is the story of Plus, a disembodied brain orbiting the Earth in a capsule called Imp (Interplanetary Monitoring Platform). Unfortunately, the writing is often disembodied as well, written as though it is written by a disembodied brain that is, of course, not all that far removed from being a computer, which makes it both difficult and boring to read. The brain is meant to examine its physiological state as it monitors the Earth but, as it is a brain, it naturally starts thinking about itself and starts to remember its terrestrial existence and then, off it goes, making patterns out of what it is thinking, trying, pathetically, to create an independent reality for itself, as we all try to do. But, like all of us, it is ultimately doomed.

Publishing history

First published 1977 by Knopf