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Remainder Paperback – Feb 13 2007


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (Feb. 13 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278357
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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 nonissue. 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. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The nameless British narrator of McCarthy's clever debut is the sort of Everyman one would never want to be. He loses virtually all of his memory in a bizarre accident ("it involved something falling from the sky") and accepts an 8.5 million settlement from the responsible party on the condition that he won't speak a word about the tragic turn of events. Our hero is at a loss as to how to spend the money until, one evening at a friend's party, he experiences a strange flash of deja vu. Inspired by this snippet from his past, he hires a facilitator to help render an exact replica of the tenement-style building he once inhabited. He even holds a "casting call" to select the building's residents, whom he directs to repeatedly perform certain tasks. The narrator then orders reenactments of seemingly random events that run the gamut from inane to insane. Londoner McCarthy delivers crisp, precise prose, though his offbeat tale might have been rendered in far fewer words. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wallonthefly on Feb. 27 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The moment that I finished Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, I began reading it again, slower this time; often pausing and re-reading a particular passage 10 or 20 times over again. I would spend hours going over a single sentence to the point where the words entirely lost their meaning and the very act of reading became the mechanical exercise of my eyes discerning the white space between the black of the type. At one point in the process of turning page 97 over to page 98, I became so enthralled by the way that the texture of the paper fell away from my fingertips and settled so serenely under my opposite thumb that I spent the rest of the afternoon reliving this moment, practicing that exact transition from 97 to 98 until I could do it effortlessly and exactly every time. Other days I would lie in the bath and simply think about reading the book as it sat on my bedside table and that would be enough.

Any and all of the above methods for fully appreciating Remainder should be taken under strict advisement by the reader; however, if you begin to experience black outs or mild seizures, then I must advise that you consult a physician immediately.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Stephen M. Sagar on June 5 2007
Format: Paperback
Remainder is a novel to be read for the existential discomfort that it leaves you with. Those who read this for a plot will not be satisfied. It attempts to recreate (or "re-enact") the soul and its connection to the material world, and cleverly poses the question who is observing who and what is the real self.

If you do not wish to contaminate your experience of the novel, then do not read on. Just read the following paragraph, which is my conclusion:

I highly recommend this book to those interested in exploring existentialism, the philosophy of body and soul, and also post-traumatic stress syndrome. Besides that, I found this to be an entertaining novel that I could not put down, full of a quirky British sense of humor.You may find yourself reading the book a number of times to digest the full meaning.

What is reality? The author may have cleverly "tricked" the reader into thinking that the novel takes place in the "real" material world....

My take on this novel(and this can be interpreted in many ways) is that the whole sequence is a dream, possibly of someone dying on a ventilator in an ICU, having experienced a horrific trauma. It may even have occurred at the instant preceding death...there is much emphasis on slowing down and stretching time.The re-enactments cleverly contain dream-like images and metaphors of the events surrounding the trauma. As he struggles to live (possibly within a coma and a paralysed body)he recreates the moment of "death", stuck in a state that borders on life and death at the moment of the trauma. As he struggles to hang on to life, he reinvents the traumatic moment...he is stuck at that point.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Illiteratina on Oct. 13 2010
Format: Paperback
Great concept, that could have been implemented in a much more entertaining narrative. The repetition is intentional, and must have been fun to write, but tranquilizes a reader. This could have been a great short story. After 60 pages or so the reader gets it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 62 reviews
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Existential Paradox June 4 2007
By Dr. Stephen M. Sagar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Remainder is a novel to be read for the existential discomfort that it leaves you with. Those who read this for a plot will not be satisfied. It attempts to recreate (or "re-enact") the soul and its connection to the material world, and cleverly poses the question who is observing who and what is the real self.

If you do not wish to contaminate your experience of the novel, then do not read on. Just read the following paragraph, which is my conclusion:

I highly recommend this book to those interested in exploring existentialism, the philosophy of body and soul, and also post-traumatic stress syndrome. Besides that, I found this to be an entertaining novel that I could not put down, full of a quirky British sense of humor.You may find yourself reading the book a number of times to digest the full meaning.

What is reality? The author may have cleverly "tricked" the reader into thinking that the novel takes place in the "real" material world....

My take on this novel(and this can be interpreted in many ways) is that the whole sequence is a dream, possibly of someone dying on a ventilator in an ICU, having experienced a horrific trauma. It may even have occurred at the instant preceding death...there is much emphasis on slowing down and stretching time.The re-enactments cleverly contain dream-like images and metaphors of the events surrounding the trauma. As he struggles to live (possibly within a coma and a paralysed body)he recreates the moment of "death", stuck in a state that borders on life and death at the moment of the trauma. As he struggles to hang on to life, he reinvents the traumatic moment...he is stuck at that point. At the end, he appears to hover between life (and its pain) and death (with its release) as the plane metaphorically banks to and from the airport. At that point he has released the trauma, relinquished his fear, and recovered his soul... and lost the painful need to understand.

I consider this book to be an excellent piece of literature which enables the reader to experience multiple levels of the soul. Life and our sense of what is real are paradoxes. Tom McCarthy has managed to express this in a fascinating novel. The interpretation is clearly left with the reader...some may find that unsatisfying...but that's the whole point...there is no ultimate answer, simply re-enactments of existence.

I highly recommend this book to those interested in exploring existentialism, the philosophy of body and soul, and also post-traumatic stress syndrome. Besides that, I found this to be an entertaining novel that I could not put down, full of a quirky British sense of humor.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Key is in the Title May 10 2007
By Laura Grey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Remainder by Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy is a kid with a box of crayons and his own set of rules. Remainder, a first novel, could best be described as the story of what could happen at the crossroads of weird and possible. What happens when you give a guy a mysterious brain injury and more money than he'll ever need? Throw in a little bit of disoriented pride and you've got the makings of this strangely compelling novel.

We first meet our hero as he relearns how to walk, eat, and talk, one laborious maneuver at a time, but this is no heroic recovery novel. Soon he is able to appear to be the same as he once was. He has lost his memory, but it is slowly coming back to him, and as a huge lawsuit settlement turns him into a multi-millionaire, he goes on a quest to create, or recreate, a moment that will make him feel something real, something non-maneuvered. So much money not only allows him to go about this quest in whatever way he sees fit, but it also allows him to refuse to explain himself as the money flows.

The unnamed narrator, unnamed perhaps because, as the title suggests, he is less of a real person than the remainder of a real person after the accident. How much humanity remains in this remainder? How far is he willing to go to feel something real? How many rules of society will his money let him break, and how long will that money last? The crescendo of this mad fugue will keep adventurous readers enthralled.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In Search of an Epiphany Nov. 28 2012
By Michael P. McCullough - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A man who has been involved in an accident, the details of which are not disclosed, ends up with a gigantic cash settlement and a vague brain injury that leaves him uninterested in life until one moment, while he is looking at a crack in a plaster bathroom wall he has an epiphany - he imagines a precise scene involving a certain building, certain people, smells, even a view out the window of black cats on red roofs. He decides he wants to recapture this epiphany and spends a great deal of money, and all his time (aided by an increasingly obsessed hired facilitator), finding (and buying) a building to modify into this imaginary place, and hiring reenactors to replay the scene over and over, day after day. More epiphanies are eventually reenacted obsessively and this captivating novel shows us an increasingly absurd perception of time, thought, action, and reality. It sounds odd, and it is, but it works.

In some ways this novel reminds me of Cosmos: A Novel - mostly because that novel also involves a narrator who derives bizarre thoughts and meanings, and pursues subsequent actions, based upon, among other things, a random crack on a ceiling - but of course the novels go in different directions from there. The narrator of *Cosmos* is quite sinister whereas the narrator of *Remainder* is detached, or if not detached then obsessed with an essence that most people would simply take for granted.

Most highly recommended.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Don't Believe the Hype Jan. 2 2011
By controlyorhorse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With the hope of countering my tendencies to avoid most "new" fiction I purchased this book thinking I could be proven wrong; to be shown that most literature that enters the marketplace in the 21st century is not a thoughtless waste of time. The first 60 or so pages of this book had promise, but then it revealed itself to be a forced, semi-imaginative and uninspired mass of pages. I feel somewhat bad for saying this but it cannot be helped. Instead I picked up "The Goalies Anxiety at the Penalty Kick" by Peter Handke, which is a tidy, superior and exceptional novel. Sorry Tom.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic and Disturbing Feb. 23 2007
By ghost - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has no real plot, but that's the beauty of it. It swirls and goes over the same events again and again, deeper and deeper, a little more intensely each time. It has echoes of Palahniuk, Pynchon, Ballard, Ellis...the writers of extreme fiction have a new addition to their ranks. The book is disturbing on a profound level simply because one can understand the narrator's obsession...empathize with him, understand why he goes where he goes and does what he does though on the surface they seem to be completely insane. Even the surprises make sense. I haven't been this haunted by a book in a long time.

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