Sunday, February 18, 2007

Remainder (by Tom McCarthy)

I read such a glowing review of this intriguing book in Entertainment Weekly that I had to run out and buy it. (It's in paperback. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered.) The plot is essentially this: a man recieves a large settlement in an accident that has damaged his memory. He decides to take the money and spend it in re-creating memories from his own life. I don't want to say more than that; you need to experience it for yourself.

The book is blurbed by Jonathan Lethem, and I totally can see how Lethem fans will like this novel as well. It also reminded me very much of Martin Dressler, especially in how the ideas of the author get carried away. I had the same sort of experience as with Dressler; I really had to decide if the dreamlike nature of the ending was good or bad for the novel. I feel like it works better in Dressler, but I will have to sleep on that. It definitely underscores the ambigious nature of Remainder, though--the sense that the events of the novel may or may not be happening at all.

The only complaint I have about the book is the intuitive leap that the narrator makes in planning the final reenactment of the book. Every other idea he has contains some kind of twisted logic, but I feel like the last one was sort of a cop-out on the author's part. The book could easily have been longer and had the narrator progress to that point more organically.

It's an absolutely fascinating and totally original book, and it only took me a couple of hours to read. I highly, highly recommend it. If you like Lethem, you absolutely should not miss it. Let me know what you think.

4 Comments:

Blogger Eden said...

I read that review & had the same reaction. I'm glad to hear a second opinion. I'm definitely grabbing a copy this week.

9:00 PM  
Blogger jen fu said...

Can I borrow it, please?

11:22 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hmm. Sounds an awful lot like "Memento," right down to the intuitive leap/cop-out finale.

I might check it out anyway.

10:28 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

I wouldn't really compare it to Memento, actually.... they're very different.

And Foo, as soon as I get it back from Jan, you can borrow it!

2:54 PM  

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