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Men in Space [Paperback]

Tom McCarthy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: £7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

13 May 2008
Set in a Central Europe rapidly fragmenting after the fall of Communism, "Men in Space" follows a cast of dissolute Bohemians, political refugees, football referees, deaf police agents, assassins and stranded astronauts as they chase a stolen icon painting from Sofia to Prague and beyond. The icon's melancholy orbit is reflected in the various characters' ellipses and near misses as they career vertiginously through all kinds of space: physical, political, emotional and metaphysical. What emerges is a vision a world in a state of disintegration.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd (13 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846880564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846880568
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 315,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and grew up in London. His creation, in 1999, of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a 'semi-fictitious organisation' that combines literature, art and philosophy, has led to publications, installations and exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world, from Tate Britain and the ICA in London to Moderna Museet in Stockholm and The Drawing Center in New York. Tom regularly writes on literature and art for publications including The New York Times, The London Review of Books and Artforum.

Product Description


"McCarthy is fast revealing himself as a master craftsman who is steering the contemporary novel towards exciting territories." THE OBSERVER"I, for one, am glad that the independent publishing house Alma Books is brave enough to back such idiosyncratic work." Alastair Sooke THE DAILY TELEGRAPH"Men in Space is a compelling and imaginative philosophical novel" Dan Fox FRIEZE MAGAZINE"a confident and intelligent meditation on failed flights of transcendence." Toby Lichtg TLS

About the Author

Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and lives in London. He is known for the reports, manifestos and media interventions he has made as General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network. His nonfiction book Tintin and the Secret of Literature was published by Granta Books in 2006.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absence of Gravity 19 May 2009
By Diacha
Tom McCarthy's "Men in space" is an exciting and thought-provoking novel. Whether it is as successfully deep as its most enthusiastic critics suggest is more questionable.

"Men in Space" is set mainly in Prague in 1992, in the temporal vacuum between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. A stolen Bulgarian icon falls into the hands of a gang of criminals. They enlist an artist, Ivan Manasek , to copy it. The secret police, themselves caught between two regimes, close in. The action takes place against a backdrop of partying by overlapping circles of expat and local Bohemians, and is punctuated by the voice of a lone police operative. This begins as a plod-like intonation of the "I was proceeding in a North Easterly direction" variety and evolves into a crazed and at times touching existential riff. The main character, to the extent there is one, is Nick Broadaman, an art journalist and life model who shares various biographical details with the author.

The central image of the book is that of a Soviet cosmonaut abandoned in space following the collapse of the USSR (presumably this is based on the story of Sergei Krikalyov whose 311 days, 20 hours and one minute on Mir straddled the end of the regime. Although he was not actually stranded- several crew rotations took place during his tour - he was dubbed the "last Soviet Citizen" and commemorated in numerous poems and an opera). There are multiple references and correspondences to orbits, ellipses, falling men, Icarus, and space: "physical, political, emotional and metaphysical." These add fun and depth, but it is hard to say that they make this a philosophical novel any more than would clues planted throughout a successful crime story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ground control to Major Tom 6 Oct 2007
In Tom McCarthy's first novel Remainder everything stems from 'something falling from the sky'. What it is that falls we are not told beyond the fact that it was 'Technology. Parts, bits'. This is because one of the conditions of the compensation package which leaves our protagonist £8.5 million richer is that he doesn't discuss 'the incident' which has left his memory impaired. Bold and atmospheric, packed full of images and ideas Remainder was my favourite book of last year, of many years in fact, it was a book which really excited me. It was also great to see a book initially published by a very small outfit (Metronome Press, Paris) go on to achieve critical success and further publishing deals here and abroad.

McCarthy's next novel thrusts in the other direction with things ascending into the sky. Above a fragmenting Europe a Soviet cosmonaut is stranded in orbit. With the Soviet Union breaking up 'like pool balls separating on the break' there is no state prepared to pay for his journey home. Set in Europe during the fall of Communism and the splitting up of Czechoslovakia the novel is populated by artists, criminals, the police and an Englishman abroad; Nick, who is based loosely around McCarthy himself. All of these rootless characters are floating around Europe like the other man in space. Remainder was narrated with a clear, almost clinical tone but this novel is filled with a myriad of competing voices and the start of the novel is a little like tuning in a radio.

Part of the plot involves a stolen icon painting which is to be copied by an artist, Ivan Manásek.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Remainder 8 Dec 2011
I thought Remainder a little overrated - a brilliant idea let down by less-than-brilliant humdrum prose. It read to me like a second draft, badly in need of honing and polishing.

Not so Men in Space - this is the best prose I've read in years: precise, poetic and alert. Even though very little really happens in the book (I was as uninterested in the perfunctory plot as McCarthy himself), its brilliant prose makes it a pleasure to read. I didn't want it to end. Superb dialogue too.

After Remainder, I thought that McCarthy was a highly intelligent (if slightly hipsterish) ideas man - but not a particularly talented writer. Men in Space proves that my assessment was b*llshit. He IS a brilliant writer, absolutely the real thing.

Next up: C. Can't wait.
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