suziehanra, January 22, 2012 (view all comments by suziehanra)
This book is unlike anything I have ever read. If you are tired of picking up contemporary fiction and finding that you've read the same story a million times before, then try Remainder. Ironically, Remainder, a true original, is a book about recreation, reenactment, and copying. A man overcoming amnesia copies into real life a memory of a forgotten place and forgotten people. He hires actors, buys an apartment building, and will go to any cost to recreate the life he believes he may have once had. But soon this is not enough for him. Soon he needs to recreate not just memory but real life, the things he sees or hears about happening around him--taking out the trash, then an accident, then a robbery--and thats not all. This book escalates like no other, as the recreations--and the protagonist's NEED to recreate--become more and more urgent, so does the reader's urge to find out how he will resolve this impossible desire. The ending is a shock and does not disappoint, but you don't have to wait till the end to be thrilled by what's written on every page.
Though this is one of the strangest and, content-wise, most daring books I've ever read, there's nothing so-called "experimental" in its language or structure to put off even the most mainstream reader. You don't need a dictionary to read this book, and you don't need a month to get through it. It's a quick, easy read, while also being one of the most puzzling and complex stories you will have ever encountered. McCarthy's handling of the escalation in the character and the story is pretty amazing, and his first-person narrator follows a perfectly-balanced sense of awareness, contemplation, and emotional reaction. It never gets sentimental, it never feels forced, it never feels gimmicky or too-clever, nor is this almost-unbelievable story ever unbelievable.
HIGHLY recommended, I got my brother to read this book and he has not picked up a work of fiction for 10 years!
vanityclear, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by vanityclear)
Loved this book. McCarthy took a standard premise for a book (amnesia) and spun out a brilliant tale that reads like a dream. Really, I felt like I hallucinated it, the text so closely mirrored my thoughts. Read it. Read it now. Read it all in one sitting. Just go.
Olivia, January 19, 2009 (view all comments by Olivia)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as re-imagined by Geoff Dyer or Don DeLillo. McCarthy argues that, in a culture driven by authenticity, blessed little is actually authentic. Great winter-of-our-discontent read.
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bbemily, March 24, 2008 (view all comments by bbemily)
This eerie story will leave you with a strange taste by the time you have finished reading. After winning millions in a lawsuit and spending many minutes is physical therapy, the narrator's life becomes consumed with re-creating a vision. This includes renovating a building to his exact specifications and staffing it with "re-creators", from a liver-cooking woman to a piano player, whose constant acts of re-creating follow a pattern no less lenient. As the narrator's demands become more and more bizarre, the fascinating but disturbing ending is inevitable.
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Vintage Books USA -
Would you trade memories for money? What if you didn't have a choice? If you didn't remember what caused your memory loss, how would you spend the settlement that resulted? In Tom McCarthy's Remainder, the unnamed man chooses to recapture imagined visions in an actual setting. He uses his settlement to recreate these images (a place, people, events) with the aid of hired help.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"McCarthy's debut novel, set in London, takes a clever conceit and pumps it up with vibrant prose to such great effect that the narrative's pointlessness is nearly a non-issue. The unnamed narrator, who suffers memory loss as the result of an accident that 'involved something falling from the sky,' receives an £8.5 million settlement and uses the money to re-enact, with the help of a 'facilitator' he hires, things remembered or imagined. He buys an apartment building to replicate one that has come to him in a vision and then populates it with people hired to re-enact, over and over again, the mundane activities he has seen his imaginary neighbors performing. He stages both ordinary acts (the fixing of a punctured tire) and violent ones (shootings and more), each time repeating the events many times and becoming increasingly detached from reality and fascinated by the scenarios his newfound wealth has allowed him to create even though he professes he doesn't 'want to understand them.' McCarthy's evocation of the narrator's absorption in his fantasy world as it cascades out of control is brilliant all the way through the abrupt climax." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Time Out (New York),
"Tom McCarthy's first novel offers a vivid, subtle portrait of creeping madness."
"Londoner McCarthy delivers crisp, precise prose, though his offbeat tale might have been rendered in far fewer words."
by Jonathan Lethem,
"A stunningly strange book about the rarest of fictional subjects, happiness."
by Scott Smith, author of The Ruins,
"Remainder is a beautifully strange and chilly book. Bloody, cold, and more tasty than you'd probably like to admit. It's a very smart yet completely unpretentious novel, and unlike anything else you're likely to read for quite some time."
by New York Times,
"Remainder [is] more than an entertaining brain-teaser: it's a work of novelistic philosophy, as disturbing as it is funny."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Remainder...is a book to be read and then reread, rich as it is with its insights, daring as it is with its contradictions."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"As in the best amnesiac stories...writer Tom McCarthy holds a wry, deadpan tone cleanly throughout. He helps things along by picking out just the right amount to detail."
For fans of Nicholson Baker and Tom McCarthy, this British debut novel is brilliant, comically surreal entertainment about a housesitting gig gone terribly, hilariously wrong. Like Edgar Allen Poe scripting The Odd Couple, or if Kafkas The Trial had to do with home repair. Waterstones calls it "a black comedy about death, destruction, and interior decoration."
A witty debut novel about a housesitting gig gone terribly, hilariously wrong.
A British copywriter stays for a week at his composer friend Oskars elegant, ultramodern apartment in a glum Eastern European city. The instructions are simple: feed the cats, dont touch the piano, and make sure nothing harms the priceless wooden floors. Content for the first time in ages, he accidentally spills some wine. Over the course of a week, both the apartment and the narrators sanity fall apart in this original and “weirdly addictive” (Daily Mail) novel.
As the situation in and out of the sleek apartment spirals out of control, more of Oskars notes appear, taking on an insistent—even sinister—tone. Care of Wooden Floors is a must-read for anyone whos ever bungled a housesitting gig, or felt inferior to a perfectionist friend—that is to say, all of us.
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