Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Lists | October 5, 2015

    Zachary Thomas Dodson: IMG 10 Books That Will Change Your Mind about Bats

    Bats are a much-maligned animal. Long thought of as creepy or evil or diseased, a closer look reveals that the wide variety of bat species also... Continue »
    1. $19.57 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $15.95
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

More copies of this ISBN

Remainder (Vintage Originals)


Remainder (Vintage Originals) Cover

ISBN13: 9780307278357
ISBN10: 0307278352
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $9.50!



Author Q & A

Q. In France and England, REMAINDER was a success story for smaller publishers. What do you think about the book being published by a large company in the US?

A. I think things are different in the US. In the UK, the corporate presses have gone so dumbed-down that if you’re a new writer doing anything vaguely ‘literary’ rather than middle-brow you more or less have to publish with an independent. Remainder first came out in English with Metronome Press, a Paris-based art outfit; then new UK independent Alma Books took it—at which point it was getting good reviews and the corporate houses who’d knocked it back two years previously were trying to ‘gazump’ them; now Hachette Littératures are about to do it in French, so it’s come full circle back to Paris. The great thing about Vintage’s US edition is that it came about because Marty Asher, Vintage’s Editor-in-Chief, read the book when it was in its original Metronome Press edition, tracked the publishers down (which wasn’t easy) and offered for it off his own bat—it was never submitted to him. That—and the fact that big publishers in the US bring out serious authors like David Foster Wallace— gives me a lot of hope.

Q. The film rights to the book have already been bought. What do you think the relationship is between REMAINDER’s re-enactments and the cinema?

A. The relationship is strong—so strong, in fact, that I had to remove all cinematic paraphernalia from the book (the hero has an antipathy to cameras) in order to prevent it from becoming an allegory of cinema itself; although he does fetishise de Niro’s seamless ease in Mean Streets. But cinema is a technology of repetition, and that’s what my hero is obsessed by: repetition. He himself becomes like cinema, in as much as he becomes a repetition machine. At the same time, repetition existed before cinema: it’s a classical trope, repetition. . .

Q. REMAINDER has been called “the best French novel ever written in English by an Englishman.” How do you think American readers might respond differently to the book?

A. Twentieth century French and American literature are not so far apart: both took part in the great adventure of Modernism, while England looked on from the sidelines. Eliot, for example, spent part of his early career writing in French; Burroughs, a little later, was completely immersed in the Paris scene, and so on. Remainder owes a lot to French writers, but also to American ones: landscapes of trauma and repetition are as much a part of Faulkner’s work (in Absalom! Absalom! for example) or Pynchon’s (in Gravity’s Rainbow) as they are of Claude Simon’s or Alain Robbe-Grillet’s. And it seems to me that the whole question of ‘authenticity’, which is central to Remainder, is a pertinent one for contemporary experience in America. America is where Baudrillard finds most of his examples of the ‘hyperreal’, after all . . .

Q. Are the re-enactments in REMAINDER based on real places and events? Can we visit the tenement in London?

A. The tenement is based on a real building beside a real caged sports pitch-and-track in South London, but I’ve modified it (just like the hero does), so it doesn’t actually look like the real thing. The street shootout that the hero re-enacts is based on a shoot-out that took place exactly where it does in the book. Weirdly—although not unsurprisingly given the part of town—I recently visited that spot with two journalists who were doing a feature on Remainder, and there was a new police sign there saying: ‘Fatal Shooting, Call for Witnesses etc.’

Q. REMAINDER is full of obsession, conspiracy, and the threat of violence. Were you thinking about terrorism at all when you wrote it?

A. I finished the book in July 2001, two months before September 11th, so ‘terrorism’ had a different meaning then than it does now. The figure of the terrorist has always fascinated me. I recently did an art-project based on Martial Bourdin’s attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory in 1894, which Conrad based The Secret Agent on; and some years ago I wrote a long, rambling piece about Patty Hearst and the SLA which an art press in the US is bringing out next year. There are conventional terrorists lurking round the edges of Remainder, but terror in that book is more of a metaphysical condition: the hero is a victim of ‘something falling from the sky.’ It could be a piece of fuselage from a blown-up plane, sure, but it could equally be fate, time, gravity, being born in the first place. As his grand project gathers pace, becoming more and more psychotic, terror takes on an aesthetic dimension: he looks at the world reflected in the pools of blood that flow from his victims’ chests and finds it beautiful. He’s like the protagonist of Rilke’s Duino Elegies, who says: ‘Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror.’

Q. Your narrator’s ideas come to him in flashes and moments of déjà vu. Is this how the ideas for REMAINDER came to you?

A. The idea came to me exactly as it comes to him: I was at a friend-of-a-friend’s party, in the bathroom, looking at a crack on the wall, and had an intense moment of déjà-vu. I ‘remembered’ an identical crack, similar building, cats lounging on the facing roofs, the smell of liver wafting up from downstairs, a pianist practicing in another apartment, and thought: wouldn’t it be good to recreate this? Within minutes the whole novel had taken shape in my head.

Q. You’re involved in the literary world and the art world. Are you a writer first and foremost?

A.Yes, absolutely. I’ve always been into literature, and always thought I’d be a writer. In my early twenties, though, I discovered art and realized that artists were onto something which literature was also looking for. Brion Gysin said that painting was a hundred years ahead of writing; I think he was being too generous to painting, but he had a point. Most of my friends are visual artists, not writers. Having spent time among UK publishing people and art people, I can say without any doubt that art people are the more literate. Not only have they all read people like Beckett, Kafka and Bataille—people who the publishing crowd have barely even heard of—but they’re also doing projects based on their work: visual art projects, or performance ones, or text-based ones. In the current UK climate, art has become the arena where literature is creatively debated and transformed, not mainstream publishing. It’s paradoxical, but interesting.

Q. Your semi-fictitious avant-garde society, the International Necronautical Society, has been active in England, France and Germany. Will it be expanding into the US?

A. The INS is a parasitical, viral organization. Like the short, pale guy in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, we go where we are invited.

Q. Who are your favorite contemporary writers and artists?

A. Most of the contemporary practitioners who float my boat are artists, for the reasons I outlined a moment ago. I’m very interested, for obvious reasons, in artists who use re-enactment as a medium. In the UK, Rod Dickinson has had Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiment and Jim Jones’s sermons, with their ‘miracle cures’, re-enacted: both events which in their original form were already ‘fake,’ completely laden with artifice. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard do elaborate and precise re-enactments of famous rock gigs such as Ziggy Stardust’s last concert or the Cramps’ notorious Napa Mental Health Institute set—again, highly orchestrated ur-events re-orchestrated. I love the Belgian artist Johan Grimonprez’s Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, a ‘lifestyle’ film-piece about airline hijackings. I like the German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg’s long-exposure images of stains and puddles, for their immersion in surface and texture—something very important to Remainder’s hero. I like older artists like Ed Ruscha for the sense of event-space, disaster and its aftermath, that they convey. And, of course, Warhol, for every reason possible. I know he’s dead, but he’s so important that he’ll always be contemporary . . .

Q. When you read REMAINDER, you get right inside the narrator’s mind. After so much time with him, do you share his obsessions with authenticity, little bits of matter, the subway, or any of the others?

A. All of them. The thing about Remainder’s hero is that he’s not some completely different type of person: he’s an Everyman—that’s why he doesn’t have a name. He is, as his friend Greg points out, a normal person who is more normal than everyone else, and has eight and a half million pounds at his disposal to indulge his sensibility, impose it on the world. But all his ticks and preoccupations are ones shared in low-level, everyday ways by almost everyone, which he spins out to their most extreme—extreme in every sense—conclusion.

Q. Those who have gotten ahold of the book in the US frequently struggle to describe it— either to explain the plot or to compare it to other novels. What other books would you compare it to? When you were writing it and people asked what your book was about, what did you say?

A. Depending on who I was talking to, I’d say it was about trauma and repetition, or about memory, or architecture, or fascism, or beauty, or economics, or authenticity, or ‘the event,’ or death, or whatever. Jonathan Lethem says it’s about happiness, which is a very good summary. In terms of comparisons, I think it has a huge back-history—in strict ‘literary’ terms, it’s very conventional. Think of all the re-enactments of stylized, violent moments in Ballard’s Crash; or Beckett’s characters replaying their own experience in Waiting for Godot, Happy Days or Krapp’s Last Tape; or Joyce’s quasi-repetition cycles in Finnegans Wake; or Yeats’s ‘gyres’ of history. Going further back: Don Quixote, like Remainder’s hero, is a guy who feels he needs to overcome his alienation by re-enacting events he thinks are more ‘authentic’—and never quite gets them right. Shakespeare’s Hamlet sits around doing nothing, envying the court actors for the ‘real-ness’ of their emotion just like my hero envies de Niro—then he gets them to re-enact his father’s death scene, just like my guy does. Mann’s Tonio Kröger, Conrad’s Lord Jim—there are loads of novels in which being and acting ‘real’ as opposed to inauthentically is the central issue. And then Proust and his madeleine memories in the Recherche, Queneau and his hundred-odd repetitions of a mundane moment in Exercises in Style . . . there are a million books you could compare Remainder to. But Remainder’s very simple: it’s just about some bloke repeating stuff.

Q. In addition to REMAINDER, you’ve also published a nonfiction title, Tintin and the Secret of Literature. What are you working on now?

A. Alma Books are publishing the novel I wrote before Remainder next spring, so I’m editing the manuscript. It’s called Men in Space and it’s set in Prague in the early nineties. It revolves around a stolen artwork which is copied, and the copy itself is copied and so on—so also about artifice and repetition. I hope it’ll come out in the US soon. I’m working on a new novel too, about technology, mourning and incestuous family structures. It’s set in the early twentieth century, when radio was coming into its own, millions were dying in World War One and the tombs of incest-practicing pharaohs were capturing the imagination of the West in unprecedented ways. It’s called C (because it’s all about cauls, crypts, carbon, cocaine, cyanide and ‘calling’) and I hope to finish it by the end of 2007.

Q. What would you do with 8.5 million pounds?

A. Exactly what Remainder’s hero does.

Q. So, come on, tell us what the accident was. We won’t tell anyone, we promise.

A. The accident is the unnameable, the blind spot, the interval between repetitions: it’s the remainder.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

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!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
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.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Michael B Padrick, January 26, 2011 (view all comments by Michael B Padrick)
One of the strangest - and one of the best - books I've read in years. Hands down: if you like your fiction thoughtful, this book is certainly for you. Excellent.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 6 comments

Product Details

McCarthy, Tom
Vintage Books USA
Wiles, Will
Accident victims
Literature-A to Z
fiction;novel;memory;england;amnesia;debut;literature;london;21st century;2000s;literary fiction;british;surrealism
Edition Description:
Vintage Originals
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.02x5.24x.69 in. .65 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Man Walks into a Room
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. Samedi the Deafness (Vintage... Used Trade Paper $8.00
  3. Divided Kingdom Used Trade Paper $5.95
  4. You Don't Love Me Yet Signed 1st Edition
    Used Hardcover $13.95
  5. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers'...
    Sale Trade Paper $1.50
  6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    Used Trade Paper $9.95

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2008
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Remainder (Vintage Originals) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780307278357 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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 , "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.)
"Review" by , "Tom McCarthy's first novel offers a vivid, subtle portrait of creeping madness."
"Review" by , "Londoner McCarthy delivers crisp, precise prose, though his offbeat tale might have been rendered in far fewer words."
"Review" by , "A stunningly strange book about the rarest of fictional subjects, happiness."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Remainder [is] more than an entertaining brain-teaser: it's a work of novelistic philosophy, as disturbing as it is funny."
"Review" by , " a book to be read and then reread, rich as it is with its insights, daring as it is with its contradictions."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at