Cedilla is not so much a sequel to as a resumption of Adam Mars-Jones’s 2008 novel Pilcrow, which recounted the first dozen or so years in the life of John Cromer: racked and ravaged by terrible osteoarthritic defects, his limbs fused and splayed, his fine motor skills minimal, his height pitiful (Cedilla sees him finally surpass Edith Piaf). The present book tracks him through a couple more excruciating and half-bungled surgical procedures, a stint at grammar school and an enlightenment-seeking jaunt to India. It then deposits him, early in the 1970s, in Cambridge, where he explores radical vegetarianism, addresses the Great Tradition and devises ever craftier means of securing hands-on human contact. We take leave of him just after graduation. He is temporarily homeless, bedding down in his beloved Mini, and shrink-wrapped in a life that seems only to have pretended to grow roomy.
In Microsoft Word, the application I’m using to write this, a pilcrow is called a ‘special character’ while a cedilla is deemed to be a ‘symbol’. The former is used to introduce a discrete chunk of text; the latter is the diacritic that makes Ss of Cs in