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Remainder Paperback – 13 Jun 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 644,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

From the Publisher

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

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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
This novel was greeted by so much hype from the critics that I was dismayed on reading it to find it was full of substance, colour, light and energy but with a profound vacancy at its heart. On an ordinary day and to an ordinary man a terrible accident occurs that robs him of most of his memory. Only fragments of it return, but he is compensated for the accident (about which he can remember nothing) to the tune of eight million pounds.

The protagonist, who has a flat, affectless, totally amoral personality, perhaps as a result of his accident, becomes obsessed with recreating, first of all, moments from his past, and secondly, with new moments. And these are, literally, moments: coming down a staircase and seeing an old woman moving a bag of rubbish; listening to someone playing a piano; looking out of a window and seeing some black cats resting on red roof tiles - their very banality and the intensity with which he experiences them are puzzling and seem to lead precisely nowhere. We learn nothing about his life prior to the accident and he seems to have no family and a few friends, who, in any case, soon abandon him or are abandoned by him.

But then he becomes interested in recreating moments that have happened since the accident - and one of them involves a bank heist, during which things get a little more interesting.

Looking for a clue in the title, I wondered if the writer was trying to suggest something about the philosophical problem of memory itself, since any memory is changed by the act of remembering. He is trying to recreate himself by repeating images that in some way moved him or made him feel safe or contented, but he's doomed from the start, since what remains from repeating an action is a faraway echo of the original feelings.
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