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Remainder Paperback – 13 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books; Paperback edition (13 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846880416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846880414
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,804 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.

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Review

A splendidly odd novel... a refreshingly idiosyncratic, enjoyably intelligent read. --The Guardian

Remainder is an intelligent and absurd satire on consumer culture. --The Times

McCarthy's prose is precise and unpretentious. His anti-hero is a sympathetic Everyman, and it is difficult to resist the dominion of his obsession... its minatory brilliance calls for classic status. --The Independent

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Alma's Submission to The Booker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Lovat on 11 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Tom McCarthy's Remainder occupies the same territory as Rupert Thompson's fascinating The Insult and is also reminiscent of the work of Paul Auster. A bizarre premise - in this case, a man left with no memory but an awful lot of money after an accident, who systematically seeks to re-enact actually experienced and/or imagined mundane scenarios - gradually comes to seem artlessly plausible, due to the absence of affect in both the writing and the central character. His abstruse quest for the real in the patently artificial operates as a nice critique of what Jean Baudrillard calls the hyper-real, yet also offers a fascinating parallel with the spiritual meditative practice of "being in the moment" through mindfulness. The book most reminded me of Sebastian Beaumont's Thirteen, the story of a taxi driver who reaches into his own psyche not by obsessively repeating minute actions but by quite literally driving himself into exhaustion. Beaumont's "other world" is less polemical, but more darkly fascinating and plot driven, than McCarthy's. Thirteen is a Remainder with go-faster stripes. The two books have a different feel, and attempt different things, but both come highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dearnesman on 25 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never read a book like this one. You cannot get it out of your head and it really does make you start to look at the world differently.

I read this on regular half-hour train journeys and, each time, when I arrived at the destination I didn't want to tear myself away from it. And when I did and finally stepped out into the Railway Station I viewed everyone in a completely different way and began seeing things previously unnoticed. No-one else around me seemed to be taking anything seriously - until I realised that everyone else was behaving normally and it was just me that had been reprogrammed. Another reviewer mentioned that the book `got under their skin' - it does just that. All of a sudden, every action, little task or movement takes on greater import.

The only disappointment was the ending, where the whole bizarreness just got to be a bit too much. But by that time the book had already altered my mind. It was too late for me.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Sewell on 19 July 2006
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever had a feeling of de ja vu where you wished you could grab that moment, cling on to it and relish its every detail, but no matter how hard you try, it's gone?

The narrator of Tom McCarthy's brilliant `Remainder' feels false and unnatural after recovering from an accident that has left him having to relearn his motor functions and a compensation package of eight-and-a-half million pounds. One evening he is struck by a clear memory of a time he can't specify, which evokes a feeling calm and fluid reality in him. He decides to utilise his newfound wealth in an attempt to recreate that precise moment, complete with the perfect building (which he has designed to his specifications by a set designer) and the neighbours he was conscious of in this flash of recall (played by actors which the narrator calls `re-enactors'). He repeatedly re-enacts his moments in an attempt to regain the feeling he was aware of in that moment of de ja vu. Our hero becomes obsessed with re-enacting: first incidents in which he featured, then incidents he witnessed (where he takes on roles as a `re-enactor'), finally, he creates an event of his own design and, after many rehearsals, puts it into practice in the `real' world, with violent and disastrous consequences and, in a rather neat way, a resolution for the narrator.

McCarthy's protagonist is insane; but sympathetic, cold; yet human. The novel's climax has an almost anti-climactic calm that left me bewildered and satisfied. It was so easy to fall into the mindset of the hero, that I have found myself grasping at moments of de ja vu with a fresh vigour. It strikes me as a book about our perceptions of self, reality... and perhaps narrative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Rana on 21 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Had an interesting premise and started well but I really felt it failed to deliver by the end.

The main protagonist was neither engaging or likeable. This was by design and an important part of the story, but the trouble was the story wasn't really engaging either (and the writing style was pretty standard). So as the book went on and the original set-pieces failed to deliver anything meaningful, it just began to feel like a bit of a drag.

Not a terrible book by any means but it wasn't good enough for me to recommend it to anyone as a worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
In the run-up to McCarthy's recent Satin Island, I thought I'd revisit his debut avant garde piece. Like all seminal fiction, it doesn't feel a day old and while I have my reservations on its repeat value, it's a confident, original performance on the written page that deserves soaking a few of your mortal hours in.

In a post-coma world, one man tries to recreate the pre-coma normal consciousness of an experienced moment. He has come into a sizeable settlement from the accident of 8.5 millions and he wants to pump it into recreating the taken-for-granted moment-to-moment perception-and-sensation loaded reality. It's his key to feeling real once again.

It's a thoroughly imaginative semantic exercise: in our protagonist's expositions to the baffled hearers of his scheme, we hear him articulate notions of fluency and fluidity of moving through the world as the one thing that separates his new, detached, learned-but-contrived self from the people around.

This deeply felt void of consciousness leads him to kickstart a series of re-enactment experiments where we see him trying to recreate whole physical environments to simulate random pre-and post-accident events from memory. With an almost inexhaustible stash of funds, he manages to mobilise a battalion of actors, designers, property developers, construction crew to actuate his schemes and the rest of the book chronicles his frustrations at getting these experiments just right, just real enough. He is seen moving himself and his employed army in that crepuscular zone between enacting and living, as he becomes obsessed with the idea of embodiment.
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