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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.)
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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
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